Do you have a medical condition which may affect your safety overseas?

by Narelle Webber on Sunday, 2 November 2014

Considering or planning on travelling with ISV in the near future? Then read this blog carefully.

Safety is ISV’s #1 concern, and a significant part of that relates to ISV knowing the medical conditions of the participants that we accept onto an ISV Program.

Thousands of young adults apply for ISV’s volunteer and travel programs each year and thousands are accepted following screening of our office for potential medical issues that may pose a safety issue on our programs.  Specifically, our staff are seeking to gain clarity on a student’s needs to assess whether ISV can accept a duty of care for them on our program, meaning, whether ISV feels that we can provide a safe environment for them to participate given their medical condition.

Depending on the condition, ISV may need to seek further information from an applicant including a letter from their doctor with their OK for them to be able to participate.  For safety reasons, there are some conditions that ISV is unable to accept a participant on our programs; however it is rare that someone is deemed unsuitable for participation and we do everything we can to try and accommodate participants with a variety of medical conditions if we feel it is safe to do so.

A typical ISV orientation meeting where safety is a primary focus (c) Narelle Webber

Unfortunately, all too often, we find out that some participants have left out important information about their medical conditions.  Why?  There might be a lot of reasons, such as feeling embarrassed by their condition, fear of not being accepted into the program, or concerns about confidentiality.  Regardless, and not just because it’s a legal requirement  to fully disclose one’s medical conditions, this poses an enormous risk to the participant in their host country as they may find themselves in a situation that puts their safety, and those around them (including other participants and ISV staff), in jeopardy.

This is serious stuff.  If something happens to a participant (or because of them to one of their fellow ISV participants or staff) as a result of an undisclosed medical condition and/or ISV learns about such a condition during the course of the program, depending on the nature of the medical condition that participant may need to be sent home as a result, with no refund, and their insurance may not cover them if they had also failed to disclose their medical condition to the insurance company.

These situations can be avoided through an honest, transparent and mature approach to the issue of accurately declaring medical conditions to ISV at the time of application and/or signing of the ISV agreement, and, should a participant’s medical information change, notifying ISV as soon as possible.

Our request is simple for any upcoming ISV participant: Your safety, the safety of other ISV participants and our staff, combined with the smooth-running of our program are ISV’s priorities, thus, you have a responsibility to fully advise ISV of your medical conditions. Be thorough, accurate and prompt.

Travelling overseas is a big-deal, and our programs are challenging both physically and mentally.  As our priority is your safety, it’s critical that we know all relevant medical details.

Our goal is a safe, smooth running program for all our participants and staff. Each participant has a role in helping us achieve this goal. We’ll treat you and the knowledge of your medical condition with confidentiality and respect. Please just be honest and upfront. Email our office today with any new information that we should know about prior to your departure. A statement on disclosure of medical details is copied below for your information. Thank you for your cooperation so we can have a safe and incredible journey together.

Disclosure OF Medical and Dietary information *** Important

The safety of all participants and our staff is ISV’s number one priority. Thus, full disclosure of medical information prior to departure is essential to running a safe program overseas in highly challenging physical and mental conditions.

Prior to your departure, you are required to disclose to ISV any medical condition(s). This includes but is not limited to dietary requirements (i.e., vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose intolerant, etc.), allergies (i.e., bites or stings, penicillin, peanuts, shellfish, etc.), all medications you are taking (i.e., for anxiety/depression, insulin for diabetes, etc.), physical/mental conditions (i.e., asthma, recent surgeries/hospitalizations, autism, etc.), and any other relevant health-related detail that would be important for ISV to know as we carry out our Program.

Vegetarians will be catered for. ISV will attempt to accommodate participants that have any other specific dietary requirements. However if this is not possible, you must be prepared to supplement your meals at your own expense by buying (or bringing from home) snacks or foods that you can safely eat which many not be readily available in your host country.

Your personal information will be treated confidentially. Your ISV leaders will have the medical and dietary information that you provided to ISV. This information will be disclosed to your project’s host organisation staff and tour operators as appropriate.  ISV takes no responsibility in cases where a participant fails to fully notify ISV of their medical conditions. Furthermore, ISV reserves the right to prohibit the participant from participating in specific activities and/or send the participant home, if an undisclosed or disclosed medical condition impacts upon the participant’s ability to safely participate in the program and/or requires an unreasonable amount of attention to manage on the part of ISV’s Project or Tour Leaders.

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