Category Archives: Health Alert Worldwide

10 things you need to know about Ebola

1. Ebola virus disease (previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever) is a rare but severe disease, which is caused by Ebola virus. It was first recognized in 1976 and has caused sporadic outbreaks ever since in several African countries.

2. More than 1,500 cases have been reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since March 2014, of which there have been more than 900 deaths. This is the first documented Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the largest ever known outbreak of this disease. There are currently no signs that the outbreak is coming under control, with new cases reported daily from both known and new outbreak areas. Cases of virus transmission continue to emerge in both the community and health-care settings. All 3 capital cities have been affected: Conakry (Guinea), Monrovia (Liberia) and Freetown (Sierra Leone). In addition, the situation in Nigeria is currently evolving and the extent to which this country will also be involved in the outbreak is unknown.

3. The continued spread of the disease probably relates at least in part to issues of strong, local cultural beliefs (such as washing the bodies of the dead, and the stigma surrounding the disease); overpopulation and crowding; migration of people across borders; a perception by local people that the healthcare professionals attempting to help are making things worse; and inadequate human resources on a background of deep poverty.

4. The virus is transmitted to people initially from wild animals, and then from person to person via contact with blood and body fluids. In addition, contaminated objects (clothes, needles) can also transmit infection if handled. Airborne transmission is thought to be limited to those viruses carried in large droplets of human secretions.

5. Infection with Ebola virus leads to sudden onset of fever, chills, muscle aches, headache, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, with sore throat and in some cases a rash. This will develop as early as 2 days after infection and as late as 21 days. This is then followed by impaired kidney and liver function and stomach pain, and in some cases uncontrolled bleeding, both external (such as through puncture sites) and internal (causing vital organ damage). Ebola is fatal in 50 to 90% of cases who develop these signs and symptoms.

6. Many other far more common illnesses in these countries start off like Ebola, such as flu, typhoid, and malaria. This makes prompt and early assessment even more important – especially since survival seems better in those cases identified early.

7. It is very important to remember that you will not be at risk of Ebola infection unless you have been in close contact with people with the above symptoms. You cannot catch Ebola from people who are well, with the exception of close contact of a sexual nature, as patients who have recovered may still be infectious for a considerable period of time.

8. Nevertheless, if you feel unwell with symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat or rash within 21 days of coming back from Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone, you should stay at home and immediately telephone relevant health services. These services will provide advice and arrange for you to be seen in a hospital if necessary, so that the cause of your illness can be determined as quickly as possible. Unless you have had direct contact with sick people in these countries, another diagnosis for which treatment is available (such as malaria) may be made, and you will be treated.

9. For those performing humanitarian work in these countries, the risk of Ebola infection will relate entirely to the quality and consistency of your personal Infection Control procedures and discipline. Perfect and vital barrier technique includes wearing protective gowns, gloves, masks and eye protection or face shields, and the careful removal of these after use. WHO recommendations address direct patient care, laboratory activities, post mortem examinations, movement and burial of human remains, cleaning and waste disposal.

10. In conclusion:
Don’t go to these countries unless you really have to
If you are there, be very careful to avoid crowded public places and close contact with others. If you are there for humanitarian purposes, go prepared, trained, vigilant, and equipped with personal protective equipment

Author: Dr. Vanya Gant


Ebola outbreak speed ‘unprecedented’ reports WHO

The World Health Organization has said the speed and extent of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is “unprecedented”.

The WHO’s Dr Keiji Fukuda expressed concern over so-called “shadow zones”, areas which cannot be reached and where patients are not being detected.

The organisation confirmed 142 new cases of the disease had been reported since 19 August, as well as 77 deaths.

Already more people have died in this outbreak of Ebola than in any other.

At least 1,427 people have now died in the outbreak so far, with the number of cases now standing at 2,615.

Speaking at a news conference in the Liberian capital Monrovia, Dr Fukuda said combating the disease would take “several months of hard work”.

“We haven’t seen an Ebola outbreak covering towns, rural areas so quickly and over such a wide area,” he added.

Also on Friday, Nigerian authorities said that they had detected two new cases of the virus, both spouses of medical workers who had direct contact with a man who died from the virus in Nigeria after arriving from Liberia.

In Liberia on Friday, a boy of 16 shot during a protest about a quarantine died.

Shakie Kamara was one of three people seriously injured on Wednesday after security forces fired at protesters, angry after blockades were erected around the West Point slum.

SOURCE | BBC world News

Ebola Outbreak update from ALC Health

The Ebola disease outbreak which has been affecting Western Africa for the past 5 months is still not under control. It appears that local medical responses are organizing to face the crisis on the long term while neighbouring countries struggle to avoid importation of the disease into their territory.

Scepticism by some of the local population and lack of confidence in the healthcare provided to patients are complicating the crisis and creating additional challenges for medical teams (attack on a healthcare centre in Monrovia on August 18th).

On August 14th 2014, the W.H.O. “reiterated its position that the risk of transmission of Ebola virus disease during air travel remains low”(…) “WHO is therefore advising against air travel bans” (…) Nonetheless, consistent with airline guidelines, travellers should use prudent judgment in avoiding contact with any passengers who have obvious symptoms of illness.

Locally, the risk of coming into close contact with the disease or being contaminated remains low for expatriates or travellers following strict hygiene rules (cf. Ebola Outbreak Memo).

However, there is a real risk of facing the indirect consequences of the epidemic: compromised healthcare facilities and limited access to medical care, increasing restriction on air transportation options after the annulment of regular flights to the affected countries, by a number of air operators, restrictions on movements, airport screenings, and strict guidelines for the transfer of inbound patients from impacted countries.

Such measures are expected to affect all patients, including those suffering from conditions other than Ebola and will likely delay and complicate attempts at evacuation.

For all the above reasons, our emergency evacuation assistance partner recommendation remains to avoid or interrupt any travel to the affected countries for nonessential personnel. You will find in the attached memo the most recent updates and additional useful information.

Dr Cai Glushak International Medical Chief Medical Officer

Ebola – Scheduled Airlines suspended flights

A number of Scheduled Airlines have announced that they have suspended their flights to countries affected by the Ebola outbreak.
– Ai
– Arik Air [W3 / Lagos + Abuja]
– Asky [KP / Lomé]
– British Airways [BA / Londres]
– Camair
– Eagle
– Emirates [EK / Dubaï]
– Gam
– Kenya Airways [KQ / Nairobi]
Flight operations to other areas may also be affected by the Ebola Outbreak could be suspended at anytime with little or very short notice given by governments or air carriers.

We’re at the 8th Asia Health Insurance Conference

18th-19th June 2014, Singapore

This year’s Asia Health Insurance Conference is being held at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel in Singapore and will see ALC Health Director, Andrew Apps taking on the role of Conference Chairman as well as making a key note presentation on “providing innovative high-end insurance products to the region”.

As Asia’s comprehensive Health Insurance Strategy Conference, the event brings together senior executives from private insurance, government, providers and industry experts to discuss business potential in this important market.
If you are attending the conference, and would like to set up a meeting with Andrew, do let us know and we’ll arrange a time and place .

NHS cuts free care for British expats living in the EU who retire early

shutterstock_58717219The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has caused a stir this week by banning Brits who retire early in the EU from accessing its free health care. This move will affect many British expats who have taken the opportunity to retire early in the sun but who rely on cheap or free care back home writes

The current legislation means British expatriates under state retirement age (65 for men, 60 for women) can receive free health care in countries such as France and Spain even though they are ineligible because they don’t work. The cost to European Union countries of treating these early retirees is reimbursed by the NHS.

The new rules are part of cost-cutting measures being reviewed by the NHS and will come into force on April 1, says the Department of Health.

Currently early retirees complete a S1 form before they leave the UK which entitles them, and possibly their dependents, to free care for two and a half years. To qualify for the full cover period, expats should have paid National Insurance contributions in the UK for three years prior to moving abroad.

The changes won’t affect those who currently have a valid S1 form, but once it runs out they will be required to make arrangements to cover their health care costs. As the rule is likely to come into force in April, expats who think they’re eligible are advised to fill in an S1 form now, which will enable them to have access for the next two and a half years.

The most recent figures show 2,355 residual S1 forms were issued in 2012/13, with many valid for the full 30 months.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring that the NHS is sustainable and fair for the British taxpayer. The changes only apply to new applications. All existing residual S1 forms will remain in place and continue to be valid until their cessation date.”

The removal of NHS care for expats will mean they will need to find other cover options such as private medical insurance to cover any expenses until they reach retirement age. This will be very costly for some, and for others with pre-existing conditions, it may be impossible to find.

The changes will only affect those who are not working but are under state retirement age and living within the EU. People who qualify for emergency care with the European Health Insurance card (EHIC) will still be able to access treatment.

ALC Health appoints Managing Director to spearhead major client services and systems growth

Global private medical insurance provider ALC Health has announced the appointment of Stephen Godbold as the company’s new Managing Director, taking over from founder Sarah Jewell who moves into the role of Group CEO.

With a career of over 35 years across the insurance sector, Stephen has held a number of high level appointments most recently as Chief Operating Officer at Lorica Insurance Brokers where he was responsible for managing both operational and technical matters across a variety of platforms.

Joining ALC Health at a time of continued growth, Stephen will lead the development of the company’s new IT infrastructure, customer service delivery and compliance management.

Sarah Jewell, Founder and CEO comments :

“As the company continues to enjoy record growth, the importance of ensuring that our members and distribution partners continue to receive the very best customer service and support remains our number one priority.

Stephen joins an already experienced management team and brings with him an additional skill sets that will help ALC Health continue to grow as a specialist boutique iPMI provider with a reputation for delivery excellence”.

Being bilingual may delay dementia

People who speak more than one language and who develop dementia tend to do so on average 4.5 years later than those who are monolingual, a new study has found writes .

The study, published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, observed the same delay in illiterate patients, indicating education isn’t an explanation for the differences.

 Researchers examined almost 650 dementia patients and found those who spoke two or more languages showed later onset of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as frontotemporal dementia and vascular dementia.

The benefit doesn’t extend beyond speaking two languages however, meaning speaking three or more languages doesn’t appear to further delay the onset of dementia.

The study was conducted by the University of Edinburgh and Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad, India. This region of India is home to multiple languages, which Barbara J. King, writing for NPR, believes adds extra credibility to the results.

In the Hyderabad region there are two dominant languages, Urdu and Telugu. Hindi and English are also routinely spoken, especially at school. So people raised in Hyderabad are often bilingual, with exposure to a third, sometimes fourth, language.

This impacts on the results as the researchers explained, “In contrast to previous studies, the bilingual group was drawn from the same environment as the monolingual one and the results were therefore free from the confounding effects of immigration.”

This study is the largest to look at the bilingual effect on dementia, independent of education, sex, occupation, cardiovascular risk factors, and urban vs rural dwelling, all of which have been investigated in the past as potential factors affecting the onset of dementia.

Further research is needed to determine the mechanism which is delaying dementia, say the study authors. They suggested bilingual switching between different sounds, words, concepts, grammatical structures and social norms constituted a form of natural brain training.

Reproduced by kind permission of

Essential Items for Women to Stay Healthy on the Road

Whether you are planning a two week vacation or a three month backpacking sojourn, packing items to maintain your health and hygiene on the road should be your first priority. Trust me, falling sick on the road without the correct remedies will put a real dampener on your holiday! We have put together a handy list of the nine essential items that should be in your luggage before you hit the road:

1. Hand sanitizer

Maintaining high levels of personal hygiene is really important when travelling, and one of the best ways to do that is to keep a bottle of hand sanitizer with you at all times. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to wash your hands as often as you would at home and so this way you’ll at least know you have clean hands even when you can’t wash them. You can even pick up travel-friendly bottles of sanitizer so you don’t have to worry about packing a big bulky bottle – bonus!

2. High SPF sunscreen

Unfortunately, there are too many ladies out there that pack a low SPF sunscreen in the hope that they will get a tan quicker; this is not the case! The only thing that will happen if your sunscreen does not have a high enough SPF factor is you will get burnt, and it doesn’t look pretty, not to mention it has some serious consequences to your health!

3. Sterile first aid kit

It’s really important to take a comprehensive first aid kit with you. I would advise to take a first aid kit which comes with a syringe and needle so if you do need hospital treatment, you are safe in the knowledge that you have sterile equipment with you.

4. Women’s multi-vitamins

Our diet can be dramatically different when we travel, and therefore it can have a negative effect on our health. A great way to ensure that you are still getting essential nutrients is by packing a small bottle of women’s multi-vitamins.

5. Re-hydration sachets

Unfortunately, it can be quite common to contract a stomach bug when traveling. In order to combat this, one of the best products that you can take with you is rehydration sachets – these will restore your body’s salt and fluid balance; I don’t know what I would have done without these when I got sick in Thailand!

6. Fit kit

The fit kit is especially useful on longer vacations and backpacking trips; many women – myself included, do worry about their fitness levels when away from the routine of going to the gym. A great way to maintain your fitness levels is to take a FitKit with you – this has been specially designed for those that travel and so the contents come is a super small case that is the equivalent of a sunglasses case. The FitKit is basically a portable gym – it comes with a resistance tube, a jump rope, pedometer, resistance band and reflective arm band.

7. Bug spray

I never travel without a high impact bug spray – mosquitoes seem to absolutely love me, much to my annoyance! Not only is it dangerous to get bitten due to the risks of malaria and dengue fever, but bites also look so unsightly – especially if they get as big and swollen as they do on me! The bug spray that I use is one that has a high level of DEET – DEET is highly regarded as the best ingredient to prevent mosquitoes.

Before you use a DEET based product I would highly recommend doing a patch test first to see if DEET is compatible with your skin, and also seek the guidance of your doctor for the best ways to prevent getting bitten. If you are heading to an area where malaria is particularly prevalent then you will also want to pack a mosquito net and anti-malarial medication.

8. Funky sun hat

A lot of people don’t realize it, but dehydration and sun stroke are big risk factors when on the road! A fabulous (and stylish) way to minimize this risk is to pack a sun hat and wear it whenever you are out in direct sunlight. The great news is that there are some super stylish sun hat options out there so you don’t need to worry about looking ridiculous! My personal favorite is a cute straw hat with a brightly colored ribbon – there are also packable straw hat options on the market nowadays so you don’t need to worry about it getting squashed in your luggage.

9. Shewee

I’ll be the first person to admit that the bathroom facilities in many places overseas are not up to the same standard as they are at home. The best way to avoid having to sit on a filthy toilet and run the risk of contracting germs is to carry a shewee with you.

A shewee is a contraption that allows you to wee whilst standing up, so no matter how grimy the toilet is, your skin need never touch it! Having the shewee also means being able to go to the toilet outside (often more preferable than being stuck in a stinky loo) and you can stand up – much better than trying to find a spot to crouch down!

Guest Author: Emma Spires Emma is a keen traveller who has been on the road for a decade. In between sojourns she spends her time on the hunt for innovative ladies travel products to review for her site Ladies With Luggage with the aim of helping her readers have a more fun, safe and comfortable trip. She also loves to write specialised female travel packing lists – everything from a romantic weekend away to long term backpacking trips.

Reproduced by kind permission of the

ALC Health Director to be keynote speaker at Association of International Medical Insurance Providers (AIMIP) conference

AWAALC Health’s Sales & Marketing Director, Andrew Apps will be a keynote speaker at both the North (Manchester, 21st November) and South (London, 19th November) AIMIP (association of international medical insurance providers) conferences being held this week in the UK.