Health & Safety
1. Health Disclosure Form & Physician's Release Statement
These OIE documents are a perfect opportunity to personally assess the status of your health and to follow up this assessment with a conversation with a physician. It is important that you disclose on the Health Disclosure Form any physical or emotional issues, allergies, disabilities or other health concerns that might impact your study abroad and for you to address them before you leave the United States. Services for individuals with disabilities vary from country to country. If you have a disability, identify your needs and understand ahead of time what accommodations you will have while abroad.
Required Visit to a Physician: You are required to visit your physician, Rider's Health Center physician or other physician of your choice, and have him/her sign the Physician's Release Statement in order to go abroad. You should take with you the Health Disclosure Form for purposes of discussion. Be sure you are up-to-date on immunizations, and discuss any issues particular to your country of destination such as water quality and altitude.
2. Useful Websites
- Center for Disease Control
- Travel Health On-Line
- Mobility International
- The Well Informed Traveler
- Travel Guides
- Country Facts
3. Tips for Staying Healthy Abroad
Take some time before departure to understand the health conditions in your host country. It may take time, depending upon your country of destination, to adjust to food, water, climate etc. Here are some tips for staying healthy from the CDC.
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Avoid foods from street vendors if you are in a country where food and water hygiene are an issue.
- Avoid uncooked vegetables if you are going to a developing country where water standards are an issue (i.e. Mexico, Ghana), and avoid untreated water or ice. Your provider will clarify whether this is an issue.
- Swim only in well-maintained, chlorinated pools or in ocean water known to be free of pollution. Your provider will give you information regarding the advisability of swimming in fresh-water lakes or rivers.
- Reduce problems to sun exposure (important in Australia, New Zealand and tropical destinations) by using sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, sunscreen and lip protection.
- If you experience intestinal distress while abroad, remember that it is usually short-lived and unrelated to infection. Over-the-counter anti-diarrheic medicines will typically help.
- If you become ill shortly after returning home, report your travel history to your physician.
- Get enough sleep and eat well. You may be tempted to party all night and eat on the street, but this is an invitation to get sick. Your adjustment to the culture will also be easier if you take care of your health.
4. HIV, AIDS, STDs
AIDS is a worldwide problem. HIV is very common in homosexual and heterosexual populations throughout most parts of the world. In general, it is recommended that you avoid injections, blood transfusions and unprotected sex. Diabetics are encouraged to bring a sufficient supply of needles and syringes with a prescription or doctor's authorization.
Avoid acupuncture, dental work, ear piercing, body piercing or tattooing if you are uncertain of sanitary conditions. If you choose to be sexually active, protect yourself with a condom. Other sexually transmitted diseases such as hepatitis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes and genital warts are easily transmitted as well. Condoms can reduce your risk of course. If you believe that you might have been exposed to an STD, see a doctor as soon as possible.