IntlSOS 30 Years - From East to West - Page 131



07 A Broadening Service | Preparation and Prevention
Preparation
and Prevention
Learning from
Experience
In the late 1990s Dr Neil Nerwich
received a call from the medical
director of a major organisation
requesting assistance for a very unwell
expatriate employee in China. We
evacuated him to Singapore where he
sadly passed away from rabies. He
had moved to China with his family to
work. They had subsequently bought
a puppy from a local market, and,
as puppies sometimes do, it nipped
people. The puppy subsequently
died and the family were told that
distemper was the cause. In fact
the puppy had had rabies and
transmitted the virus to the father.
The family was not immunised against
rabies prior to deployment and were
not fully aware of the rabies risk.
The organisation recognised the need
for well-structured, standardised
medical screening, immunisation and
travel education prior to deployments.
We helped develop this programme,
then known as ‘Corporate Care’, and it
was subsequently rolled out to many
organisations as ‘MedFit Services’.
When people think of International SOS, medical
evacuations are likely to spring to mind. Of course
that is, and always has been, at the heart of the
company, and it makes for many exciting stories,
but we do far more than that.
Our presence in developing countries, combined
with our local knowledge and multilingual
capabilities, meant we were often the first place
travellers turned to for help. From very early on
our Assistance Centres dealt with many ‘technical’
or ‘non-medical’ calls; a typical example is
travellers with lost wallets or passports.
As Laurent Sabourin says:
“Our company has always been about resolving
and preventing crises. With the exception of adding
security offerings and responding to the advent of
the internet, which came later, in general terms
the services we provide today were there at the
beginning. What has changed is the world
around us and how we deliver those services.”
We have increased our geographical reach and
moved into different sectors, for example, government
outsourcing services. Our products and services
have also become more sophisticated, adapting to
the changing needs of clients, across the globe.
In ‘Remote Locations,’ we saw how we expanded
our services to include occupational health,
community health and other initiatives.
Over time we have extended these services
to our other clients with a growing emphasis on
preparation and prevention. From a medical
perspective we looked at reducing accidents and
the spread of diseases as well as promoting health
and wellness. Dr Olivier Lo adds:
“Without a doubt over the last decade, the
industries we are servicing are moving beyond using
our health programmes for enhancing preparedness
and health crisis resolution. Today, we see more
sophisticated health risk management models being
used by organisations to mitigate the economic
burden of poor health and increase productivity.
Simultaneously, we have seen a progressive global
change in the HSE legislative landscape that is
motivating our clients to find better ways to provide
a safer and healthier workplace for their employees.
In short, prevention of ill health has become a
priority for our clients in addition to providing
treatment services for their global workforce.”
Dr Myles Druckman and his team have identified
that failed international assignments due to
preventable medical events can be ‘saved’ by
screening high risk personnel at appropriate points.
Using a novel methodology, Myles has been able to
demonstrate to clients significant returns on
investment with this approach. Thus not only – and
most importantly – have lives been saved, improved
productivity and reduced costs have also resulted.
From a security perspective we have also helped
people better understand travel risks and how to
improve personal security.
Air pollution,
Shanghai 2014.
123

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