Organisations recommended to be vigilant over the risk of malaria to the mobile workforce

24 April 2017 ,  —


  • Malaria cases in off-shore organisations triple in space of two years (2014-16) 
  • Only 22% of organisations provide pre-travel health programmes 
  • A mere 36% of travel risk professionals protect against mosquito bites 
  • Malaria controlled in some areas, emerging in others
International SOS has found that even travel risk professionals are often not protecting themselves from mosquito bites when they travel, and less than a quarter of organisations have pre-travel health programmes in place. International SOS data shows that malaria represents an increasing proportion of offshore medical and accident or injury cases, such as on oil and gas rigs, rising from 13% of all medical cases in 2014 to 41% in 2016. However, with appropriate programmes in place, a greater proportion of these have been managed on board, from 65% to 90% in 2016.

Malaria day 2017

Dr Irene Lai, Medical Director, Medical Information and Analysis comments, “While the fight against malaria is reducing the global burden, we still receive thousands of calls into our Assistance Centre each year for this preventable disease. Malaria can have extremely serious personal health consequences and for businesses can result in significant costs through a failed assignment. Organisations can mitigate this risk with a few simple measures such as education of employees prior to travel, providing travellers with preventive measures and monitoring outbreaks.”

While malaria has been eliminated in some regions, such as Sri Lanka, other areas, such as several provinces in South Africa, have seen the emergence of malaria.   

Bernard Aryeety, Deputy Director of Advocacy, Malaria No More UK comments, “The UK also has the second highest imported cases of malaria per year in developed countries and globally over 10,000 travellers are reported to return home with malaria each year. This disease continues to pose a serious threat with serious consequences if not treated correctly. The emergence of drug and insecticide resistance also threatens to derail progress, reminding us that the gains of recent years could be rapidly reversed, potentially increasing threat levels to both leisure and business travellers as well as communities. But our global ambition is to reduce global number of cases and deaths by wiping out the disease for good.”

Malaria prevention programmes aimed at employees travelling and working in malaria-risk regions has been found to reduce the occurrence of fatal cases by 70% and the return on investment was $1.32 for each $1 invested. International SOS advises a comprehensive malaria prevention programme including: pre-deployment education, access to preventive medication and other measures such as insect repellents, bed nets and access to urgent diagnosis and treatment.

For more information and to download a Malaria pocket guide click here.

Notes to Editors

1 & 2: International Travel: Risks and Reality: The New Normal for Business is an Ipsos MORI research study conducted among 1,119 business decision-makers across 75 countries. Research was conducted online using representative panels in the period October 6th to October 26th 2016.

3: Prevent ‘Return on Prevention’ study. The full study can be downloaded here.

About International SOS

International SOS is the world’s leading medical and travel security risk services company. We care for clients across the globe, from more than 1000 locations in 90 countries.

Our expertise is unique: More than 11,000 employees are led by 1,400 doctors and 200 security specialists. Teams work night and day to protect our members. 

We pioneer a range of preventive programmes strengthened by our in-country expertise. We deliver unrivalled emergency assistance during critical illness, accident or civil unrest. 

We are passionate about helping clients put Duty of Care into practice. With us, multinational corporate clients, governments and NGOs can mitigate risks for their people working remotely or overseas.

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