Going travelling? Talk to your pharmacist

Australian pharmacists have the knowledge to deliver travel health advice, according to research by led James Cook University.

The study’s lead author Associate Professor Ian Heslop said the quality of Australian pharmacists’ travel health knowledge has the potential to improve outcomes for travellers.

“Many travellers do not seek pre-travel health advice before going overseas and one of the reasons is the difficulty in making appointments with travel health providers,” he said.

“Pharmacists are often seen as being accessible and convenient due to their extensive operating hours, therefore this study should give Australians confidence to speak with their local pharmacist before travelling overseas.”

Dr Heslop said this study is one of the first to examine the travel health knowledge of Australian pharmacists, and looked at issues such as the common causes of death or disease when overseas, and the management of illnesses, if they occur.

“The results of our survey show that pharmacists in Australia have a good knowledge of travel health,” he said. “The majority were aware of the common causes of morbidity and mortality in travel health, and of the health risks associated with some common destinations for Australian travellers.

“From a public health perspective, this is good news.”

Dr Heslop said pharmacists in the study also demonstrated an awareness of the vaccines required for common destinations for Australian travellers, malaria prevention, and management of traveller’s diarrhoea.

“This adds support to the case for allowing pharmacies to supply a wider range of vaccines, antimalarials, and a limited range of antibiotics for use in travel health,” he said.

“When borders re-open and people are able to travel again, if people are unable to attend travel health clinics before their trip they should feel comfortable consulting their local pharmacist as a first step.”

The research was published in the journal Pharmacy.

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