Here’s why you should consult a doctor before travelling abroad

A young farmer from Kolhapur had gone to South Africa to teach farming lessons to South Africans. While returning India to he became ill and was diagnosed with an infection of cerebral malaria, with life-threatening complications. His kidney and liver was damaged. He was hospitalised in Pune when he became comatose. Recently he was discharged successfully. This incident is a cautionary tale for all of us and reminds us about the importance of preventive medicine

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Incidence of malaria is high in South Africa. Many people contract a malarial infection with them while they come to India after travelling to Africa.

The WHO African Region continues to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2017, the region was home to 92% of malaria cases and 93% of malaria deaths. They fail to take simple preventive medicines for the same.

Doctors underlined that had he (the farmer) taken preventive medicine, he wouldn’t have had met with all these troubles.

Sushant Pawar, (name changed), a 35-year-old farmer from Kolhapur, is now back to tending his fields. Around six months ago he visited South Africa. He was invited there to teach farming methods that he is using.

When he returned to India, a few months ago he had started feeling feverish and he experienced intense headaches. The local doctors at his hometown gave him basic medicines. But nothing helped him. In fact his pain got aggravated.

Dr Abhijit Lodha, a physician who was treating the patient said, “When we checked him, his test results came as malaria positive. Earlier, he just started with fever, but slowly he started getting critical. His kidney and liver got affected. We took out the fluid that was being generated in his brain. He was in coma for few days. After continuous monitoring and other support systems he was successfully treated.”

“But had he taken a preventive medicine for malaria before visiting Africa and after coming from there, he could have saved himself from all the trouble that he went through. What is important is one should take travel advice seriously and follow all the preventive measures, especially while visiting countries which are prone to certain diseases,” he added.

This incident underlines the importance of using preventive stratergies which are useful in preventing diseases which are endemic to certain regions or countries around the world.

Dr Jayant Navrange, a paediatrician from Pune. said, “Whenever we visit countries which are prone to diseases, you should take advice of your doctor. When you are visiting country like Africa, you should take one tablet before one week of visiting the country, every week one tablet for the duration you stay in that country and one tablet once you visit India.”

He added, “Also things like using mosquito net, mosquito repellent should be undertaken. Also, for diseases like yellow fever, once you take a medicine it can protect you for around ten years. Same precautions should be taken for cholera while visiting Bangladesh. Geography and medicinal history we should take into account while planning a visit to any other country.”