Helping to keep travellers healthy and safe

With a record 1.3 billion international tourists roaming the planet last year, the risks of travellers spreading and contracting diseases are greater than ever.

James Cook University’s Professor Peter Leggat has now been given the responsibility of keeping the globetrotting travellers healthy.

Professor Leggat has been elected the first Australian President of the International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM).

“More Australian travellers than ever are also going overseas. Travel medicine seeks to prevent illnesses and injuries occurring to international travellers and manage conditions arising in travellers coming back to Australia or coming here from abroad.

The Society is also concerned about the impact of tourism on health and advocates for improved health and safety services for travellers,” he said.

Professor Leggat will become the first Australian elected to the ISTM’s top job, following on from being the first Australian to be appointed ISTM Secretary-Treasurer in 2013.

The Townsville-based professor began his career at JCU more than 27 years ago. He was a founding member of the ISTM in 1991. He said the new appointment came with tremendous responsibilities.

“The ISTM now has more than 4,000 members with representation from about 100 countries. We also have the largest certification examination program in the field, which leads to the award of the ISTM Certificate of Travel Medicine (CTH®)”, he said.

About 2,700 CTH® designations have been awarded to doctors, nurses and pharmacists from about 60 countries.

The ISTM is a global organisation dedicated to promoting excellence amongst doctors, nurses and pharmacists working in travel medicine and migrant health worldwide. It works with other international organisations in the fields of travel medicine and migrant health, including the World Health Organization.

Founded in 1991, the Society has its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. The ISTM collaborates with Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also based in Atlanta, on GeoSentinel – a global disease surveillance program, which is funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services to the tune of nearly US$1M per year.

The Society’s international scientific Journal of Travel Medicine has also been published successfully for more than 20 years.

Professor Leggat added that his work as president-elect will formally begin during the biennial 16th Conference of the ISTM being held in Washington DC in June 2019. It is also the time that he formally hands over the reins of ISTM Secretary-Treasurer after 6 years to Dr Michael Jones from the United Kingdom.

James Cook University has conducted postgraduate tropical and travel medicine training for doctors, nurses and pharmacists since 1992, including Australia’s first postgraduate course in travel medicine, which was established in 2000.

For more information about the International Society of Travel Medicine visit:

http://www.istm.org

Images of Professor Leggat here.

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