No one wants to get sick while traveling, especially during a once in a lifetime trip.
The desire to keep people healthy while traveling abroad has led to the birth of the travel medicine industry, which deals with the prevention and management of health issues faced by international travelers.
The travel industry is one of the largest industries in the global economy contributing directly, indirectly and induced a combined more than 7.6 trillion U.S. dollars in 2016, according to database company Statista.
Statista also reported that in 2017, there were 1.32 billion international tourist arrivals worldwide. As the number of travelers increases, so does the need for international medical.
Leading the way is Passport Health, an organization headquartered in Scottsdale that offers individuals a “one-stop-shop” for vaccinations, travel documents and travel supply needs through consultations.
“We go over the various risks that someone might have traveling to a specific destination, what they can do to mitigate those risks, provide them with immunizations, medications and other items,” Will Sowards, Passport Health digital communications manager, said. “It’s designed to be a very comprehensive, very informational experience that helps someone to really stay healthy while they’re abroad.”
The organization originally started with the mission of providing routine immunizations and specialty vaccines — such as Japanese encephalitis and yellow fever — because most primary care physicians do not carry the vaccines needed for international travel.
“For a lot of travel immunizations, general practitioners won’t actually keep them in stock because they don’t have a lot of individuals that are coming through to get those vaccines,” Sowards said. “Passport Health is one of the few places where people can go and receive all those immunizations. It really is a different experience from what most people will have just going to see their family physician.”
The clinics then grew to include passport and visa services, biometric screenings, lab test services, vaccination records management services, as well as two types of onsite events to help vaccinate groups of people.
Starting with one office in Baltimore, Maryland, Passport Health is now working to meet the demand by expanding its presence across North America with more than 300 clinics including locations in Mexico and Canada.
“We’re working on expansion in various areas,” Sowards said. “For us, it’s about protection and making sure that people stay protected and stay safe while they’re traveling abroad and by being able to expand in these areas, we’re able to help more people stay protected as they travel.”
Sowards said he expects the travel industry to continue growing and Passport Health will continue to grow to meet the demand of health care.
“We really try to focus on positivity and the positive impact that this type of health care can have,” he said. “The more that people can go out and see the world and the more that they can do it safely and the more experiences they have that are positive, the more that they’ll want to travel and the more that they’ll be able to experience and the more real diversification we can have.”
For more information on Passport Health, click here.