Inbound students Study Abroad and Exchange at the University of Melbourne

Medical tips

These are some tips to get you medically prepared before you go and how to stay healthy whilst you are abroad.

Before you go

At least three months before you travel:

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have a general medical and dental checkup
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enquire about immunisation requirements with your doctor, the University Health Service or a travel health clinic for your host country - don't forget your travel to and from your destination and the places you may visit on holiday:

  • Group A, you should have had at school but make sure they are up-to-date:
    • Tetanus/Diphtheria (ADT)
    • Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR)
    • Polio
  • Group B, you may have had for previous overseas travel but check if they need updating, you should consider having all of these:
    • Hepatitis A & B - can be given separately or together.
    • Typhoid - can be given by injection or capsules.
    • Meningococcal meningitis
  • Group C, you may need depending on where and how you are travelling:
    • Japanese Encephalitis
    • Yellow Fever (see note below)
    • Rabies
    • Cholera

Download a copy of the University's "Overseas vaccination guidelines" (20KB pdf)

Note: You will need a yellow fever vaccination certificate if you visit a country declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be infected with yellow fever during the six days before returning to Australia. A list of countries can be obtained from the WHO web site or from the Department of Health and Aged Care web site.

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take a copy of the immunisation certificate overseas with you.
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anti-malarial medication may be necessary in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
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take a copy of your glasses/contacts prescription with you.
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if you have any chronic health problems or conditions, for example, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, eczema, gastrointestinal and muscle and joint problems, managing these overseas may be more difficult, so:
  • visit your GP or Specialist to make sure you know as much as possible about your condition
  • check that the medication you use is available in the country(s) you will visit
  • make sure you take adequate supplies (see note below) or have a satisfactory alternative
  • carry the medication in your hand luggage as temperatures in the hold of aircraft can vary wildly and your hand luggage is less likely to be lost in transit
  • carry an original prescription which includes the generic drug name
  • carry a letter from your doctor explaining your condition and the treatment
  • consider having this translated into the language of the country you will visit
  • make copies of this information and where possible keep one with you, one in your luggage and give others to family or friends
  • check, by contacting the embassy or high commission, that your medications are legal in the country(s) to which you will be travelling

Note: In some cases it is illegal to take or post Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medications overseas unless they are for personal use. For further information see the taking and sending PBS medicines overseas webpage.

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women should take adequate supplies of feminine hygiene products, in case these are not available.
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take adequate supplies of contraceptives if you think you might need to use them, especially condoms, as supplies can be unreliable in some countries
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make up a small medical kit, which might include band-aids, cotton wool, gauze, adhesive tape, antibacterial ointment, safety pins, 30+ sunscreen, insect repellent containing 'DEET', headache tablets, disinfectant, tweezers, small scissors, a thermometre and something for insect bites, such as calamine lotion.
 

Whilst you are abroad

When you are travelling overseas:

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Learn how to find a doctor overseas perhaps through, for example, the international office of your host institution, the health travel insurance, hotels, or IAMAT, the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers, can provide a list of English speaking doctors all over the world for members (Membership is free but donations are requested for this non-profit organisation.)
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If you are scuba-diving, don't travel in an aircraft for at least 24 hours after your final dive;
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In areas where mosquitoes are active, wear light-coloured loose-fitting clothing that covers your arms and legs and apply insect repellent regularly to exposed skin, especially to the neck, face and hands;
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Drink plenty of bottled water and use it to clean your teeth, but always check that the seal is intact on the bottle when you open it for the first time; and
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Be wary of uncooked food and fruit that you can't peel.
 

Reference

Smartraveller: The Australian Government's travel advisory and consular assistance service.

 

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