MEDEX 360m Rates the State of Global Medical Care for Travelers

Friday, November 30, 2007 General News J E 4
BALTIMORE, Nov. 29 Determining health risks and thequality of medical care travelers encounter can be incredibly complex.According to the just published MEDEX 360m International Healthcare RatingSystem, high standards of care go beyond surgical skills, precise diagnosticsand availability of antibiotics; many other factors must be considered.

Developed by MEDEX Global Group and Harvard Medical International, thisrating system combines assessments of a country's medical capabilities andservices with an understanding of the real-world circumstances and culturalsensitivities that can also affect travelers.

The 236 countries covered by MEDEX 360m are rated on a five-point scale,in four categories: health risks, remoteness from and ease of access toquality care, cultural challenges impacting care and acceptable quality ofcare. More than a compilation of "bests and worsts," MEDEX 360m ratings arepart of the comprehensive, destination reports MEDEX provides to clients.

"The baseline for the International Healthcare Rating assessments is theavailability of competent medical professionals, life-saving equipment andmedications. However, we find that it is a tremendous help if travelers areaware of some key factors that can play a pivotal role in the care theyreceive," explains Pascaline Wolfermann, director for MEDEX's EmergencyResponse Center.

Often under-examined by travelers is the threat of trauma posed by trafficaccidents, particularly in countries where road safety regulations are notstrenuously enforced or are non-existent. Likewise, proximity to quality careis a critical factor in a patient's prognosis; this is particularly importantwhen serious medical problems arise in a rural area. "Travelers visitingremote areas need to be aware of how quickly they will be able to accessquality facilities in urban centers," says Wolfermann.

The ratings also reveal that even modern societies can present surprisingcultural barriers to healthcare. MEDEX 360m gives a lower rating to countries,like Japan, where factors including communication and cultural attitudes aboutthe use of pain medication may differ from Western standards. Wolfermann,while acknowledging that the rating criteria are decidedly WesternEuropean/North America-centric, says that these factors are important for themajority of MEDEX's constituency.

In Santiago, Chile, where private hospitals are among South America'sfinest, rooms are designed like hotel suites. Family members are encouragedto stay with the patient, providing moral support and companionship. In Spain,family members are also encouraged to stay and are expected to tend to patientfeeding and hygiene needs (instead of nurses). "This custom can certainlyaffect travelers' perceptions of the care," adds Wolfermann.

For a sampling of top and bottom country ratings:

MEDEX is one of the world's leading providers of emergency assistance,medical and security evacuations, and international medical insurance totravelers. Harvard Medical International is a not-for-profit subsidiary ofHarvard Medical School.



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