9 Australians per day are either hospitalised or killed while overseas
A third of all deaths in 2017 happened in South East Asia alone.
One Australian is hospitalised or dies overseas every 2.5 hours, according to analysis conducted by finder.com.au using data from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
South East Asia is the region where Aussies need to be on guard the most, as 523 Australians were killed in either Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia or Vietnam in 2017. Thailand claims more Aussies tourists than any other holiday spot, despite being only the fifth most popular destination, according to DFAT.
One of the most recent health scares to come out of South East Asia is the closure of the popular tourist destination of Boracay Island in the Philippines. The Philippines Tourism Board says a combination of too many tourists and an unregulated sewerage system has created a breeding ground for bacteria and waterborne illnesses. They have closed the islands's beaches to tourists as a precautionary measure. The repairs are set to be completed, and the beaches reopened, in October of this year.
Travel to the Philippines shows no sign of slowing down. Data from Allianz Travel Insurance’s assistance arm, Allianz Global Assistance, confirms a whopping 164 per cent increase in the number of Aussies travelling to the Philippines between 2015 – 2017.
Hopefully tourism boards like the ones in the Philippines will be able to make the adjustments needed to protect habitats like Boracay and to protect the tourists who visit them. In the meantime, travellers need to keep themselves safe from potential outbreaks.
“The recent events in Boracay in the Philippines have shone a light on the importance of being properly prepared for potential health risks. There are a significant number of popular holiday destinations that, while beautiful and picturesque, do have a history of disease outbreak. We urge Aussie travellers to ensure they’re up to date with vaccinations and have adequate travel insurance before they go, that way they can enjoy themselves without worry”, general manager of Allianz Travel Insurance Brendon Dyer said in a statement.
Here are some ways Dyer suggests you can keep yourself safe if you're travelling in South East Asia:
- Ask your doctor about what health precautions you should take based on where you'll be travelling.
- Make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date before you leave
- Pack a survival kit including general antibiotics, gastro medicine, band-aids, insect repellent and antibacterial sanitiser.
- Avoid tap water, ice, fresh fruit and street food, all of which can be breeding grounds for harmful bacteria.
Getting sick overseas can be devastating for an Aussie, especially in places like South East Asia, where there are no reciprocal health care agreements in place and where the standard of healthcare is generally lower. Not to mention, if you are injured in a remote location like some of the islands in South East Asia, a medical emergency could require an expensive life flight.
The final suggestion is to pick up international travel insurance, which will protect you against these and other risks you could face in South East Asia.