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Yes! It is essential for an organization to provide guidance on health/safety preparation and response to any health/safety incidents
that you might encounter, here's why... 

Look into what safety and health provisions are in place:

Personal Safety

Pre-departure training: May take several forms e.g. a guidance handbook, and should contain guidance on:

  • Immunization and access to HIV prophylaxis (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis, known as PEP)

  • Alcohol and Drugs

  • Traffic accidents and motor vehicle safety

  • Culture shock

  • Registering with government website to track location in case of emergency

  • Political unrest and terrorism

  • Natural disasters       


Local support: May take several forms but should include:

  • Supervisors for clinical/professional aspects of programming or public health/NGO efforts.

  • Program leadership/partners who have experience in providing educational programming and are accountable to the student and sending institution

  • Liaison for local coordination, logistics, housing, and administrative support

  • ‘Learning Agreement’ detailing the range of procedures and skills that you are able to undertake and those that you are not yet qualified to undertake. 

  • Accommodation, although options may vary, should have a risk management review for safety and security considerations

  • Safety procedures, insurance (required and recommended insurance varies based on type of elective, location, and more.  Ensure incident response is in place including contact details for use in case of emergency)

  • Protection of people and planet:

    • Codes of conduct                                

      • For contact with children and vulnerable populations that protect privacy, prevent interference, exploitation or abuse.  Consider whether certain settings are even appropriate to visit or work in, including orphanages (as pointed out by the Better Volunteering, Better Care Network).

      • For visits to urban, rural, natural, wildlife and heritage sites that detail appropriate health, safety, and conservation practice.

      • For photography and use of images that honors cultural norms and ensures respect, including consent when culturally possible, as well as redaction in the event of clinically related photos (although generally photos in clinical settings should be discouraged or limited)                 

      • Carbon offset mechanisms for air travel that allow you to recognize and make up for the carbon footprint of your travel.                                                                                              

  • Medical Evacuation/Health Insurance  (including attention to exclusions and inclusions)  This is super important as getting ill while abroad is very common due to traffic accidents, food-borne illness, tropical diseases, and more

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