• International Insurance Blog

  • Thursday, September 21, 2017

Most countries in Asia are currently doing better than their counterparts in Europe and America. This has lead to an increase in the demand for international travel health insurance among Asians who travel abroad. It seems the tables have turned and now the top travelers are from China and India. Based on their support for global health insurance and a desire to see the world, they are contributing immensely to the global economy and spreading of wealth, so to speak.
However, one big problem as noted by the World Health Organization is a new tendency to prefer infant formula instead of natural mother’s milk. It’s the same for an increase in fast food diets as compared to home cooking. These are signs of progress but not in a good way.
The efforts of WHO to promote breast feeding has been compromised because of heavy advertising that appeal to new mothers. The promise of having a star baby or a genius makes new mothers turn away from breast milk to formula. WHO is urging Asian officials to prevent misleading ads that would be detrimental to the health of young infants.
The latest study shows that mothers who shift to infant formula show a 5.8 chance of baby deaths and illnesses in the first two months.  Influence from TV and radio ads have also shown that more mothers stop nursing their babies whether or not they can afford the cost of feeding infant formula or not.  It is perceived as the “more modern” method of caring for a baby.

When a report came out earlier this year about a link between autism and the measles vaccination, parents began to think twice about the MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) shots and booster shots.  Thus when an unvaccinated student traveled overseas, he ended up getting sick and contaminating 9 others when he got back. Without the shots and the international health insurance, the local government ended up spending $300,000 just to stop the contamination from spreading. If the student got booster shots as well as international travel health insurance, the results would probably have been different.

In the first place, the report linking autism to the MMR shots is unsubstantiated. There is no proof to this allegation or no study that can even slightly confirm the possibility of a link. The measles outbreak included having to quarantine almost 185 people who were believed to have had close contact with the student. The same situation is happening in Canada with an outbreak of 757 cases because of unvaccinated persons.

Over the years the MMR vaccination has significantly caused the incidents of measles to drop from 4 million to a less than 70 a year. Thus, the outbreak is cause for alarm and a warning sign for parents to think again about having their children given the MMR vaccine.

The World Health Organization (WHO) feels that malaria, which has been with us for the past 50,000 years, may soon be permanently eradicated in 10 years. This is big boost for tourism and international health insurance because it would be one less worry for travelers. As many already know, one cannot travel to certain countries without taking note of the possibility of contracting malaria. This is why worldwide health insurance is always stressed when planning a trip overseas.
The current place that has known cases of malaria are the sub-Saharan African region with more than 780,000 people dying in the year 2009 alone! Other countries are in Asia, South America, the Caribbean, the Pacific, and Middle East.
In 2007 up to today more than 10 countries have been declared malaria-free like Morocco and Armenia.  A country can apply with WHO to get certified to be malaria-free, but they have to show proof of zero cases as well as efforts by the government to continue to fight malaria through the dissemination of tools that can be used to defeat malaria. The problem with this disease is that it can come back without warning if guards are let down. Traditional methods are mosquito nets and a malaria vaccine which is now going through final testing in Africa.


The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that cases of tuberculosis (TB) are decreasing worldwide. The drug used to eradicate the virus is successful but more funds are needed to bring the drug to impoverished countries. For travelers, this should be fantastic news even if they have their international medical insurance to protect them. TB is contagious and the international travel health insurance will not be able to stop a person from getting infected unless he has taken the preventive drug.

WHO announced also that 8.8 million people got sick with TB last year, 2010. This is lower than the 2005 figure of 9 million cases. But guess what? At the same time that WHO was having its press conference; researchers were revealing in a study published by the British Medical Journal that TB can be caused by too much smoking. And these researchers reveal that is smoking is not controlled and allowed to grow at its current rate, there will be at least 18 million new cases of TB!

Translated, this means smokers are at risk for TB and the expected deaths from TB by 2050 computed at the current number of smokers in the world will reach 40 million. They say that according to WHO statistics, about 20% of the world’s population smokes tobacco, and the numbers are rising especially in poorer countries. These are the very same countries that cannot afford the drugs to treat TB. On a more frightening scenario based on the most pessimistic analysis, it is possible for the world to experience more than 34 million cases and over 114 million deaths from TB caused by smoking. The link between smoking and TB is that smokers have weaker lungs and cannot fight off the infection well.

Is it really possible to get cancer from using the mobile phones? This appears to be the stance of Health Canada as they release guidelines to its citizens to help safeguard against possible cancer problems. They did this in spite of no verifiable data that using a cell phone can cause cancer to develop. What influence, if any, will advice this have on global health insurance? Is it possible that international health insurance could become more expensive for heavy mobile phone users?

Health Canada has stressed that heavy mobile phone users and children are at risk much more than adults because they are more sensitive.  They also based their warning on a report released in May by WHO about possible carcinogens from exposure to radio frequency and electromagnetic fields. This exposure could result in a form of brain cancer known as Glioma.

Their efforts to warn are more preventive since they admit that conclusive data has yet to be established even if there are cases linking heavy users to brain cancer. They said in a press conference, “There are a small number of epidemiology studies that have shown brain cancer rates might be elevated in long term/heavy cell phone users. Other epidemiology studies on cell phone users, laboratory studies and animal cancer studies have not supported this association.” In short, it’s possible which is why they are being cautious as well. Furthermore, these are just guidelines to reduce use until new data is expected to be released in 2012.

The Subway outlet in the Vancouver International Airport apparently served bad tuna to 7 of its customers who ended up in the hospital. Most of them were employees of Subway’s franchise owner but imagine what a nightmare it would have been if those were travelers?  While things like this happen, it does put more emphasis on the need of travelers to get international health insurance. If this happens to someone en route to the US or another country, the expenses incurred would have been huge. Without international health insurance, one would have to spend unexpectedly even if medical expenses were covered by company that sold the tainted food.

Such expenses would be the time and opportunities lost as well as the costs of baggage that may have gone on to the intended destination. The whole situation would have been a nightmare happening while experience nausea, and trauma.

As for the 7 employees, 6 of those were able to leave almost immediately. One person had to stay in the hospital for further observation and treatment.

This is what is hard about being on the go all the time. You have to make do with the available food choices, and if your immune system is weak from all the traveling, your body will not be able to fight off any germs or bacteria you may ingest.

Subway is an excellent food choice, and this incident is a fluke that normally does not happen. It will serve as a reminder to the company to be more careful about hygiene, sanitation, and food care. This particular Subway branch is cooperating with authorities. Hopefully, measures will be put in place to avoid a repeat of this incident especially in a high foot traffic area.

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