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International SOS Risk Map 2023: Caution Advised as Rising Global Risks Are Set to Impact Mobile Workers in 2023

Annual update to the International SOS Risk Map released, highlighting the security and medical risk level present in countries across the globe.


Annual update to the International SOS Risk Map released, highlighting the security and medical risk level present in countries across the globe.

Now, for the first time, the risk map has a mental health risk layer

Today, the world’s leading security and health risk services company, International SOS is releasing its annual interactive Risk Map 2023, designed to help organisations and their mobile workers better understand the risk level of each country around the world. With the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and the security conflict in Ukraine, the risk map provides invaluable information to enable organisations to recognise and understand the specific ways these risks may impact their employees. As global risks continue to evolve around the world, using data-driven tools like the Risk Map can help organisations maintain their Duty of Care responsibilities in these often-uncertain times.

The map provides a layer illustrating mental health illness globally using external data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Global Burden of Disease. It shows the estimated percentage of a location’s population suffering from mental health disorders1. This allows organisations, particularly large multinationals, to understand which locations may be particularly vulnerable to mental health issues. This data reveals the extent of the mental health epidemic that employees are facing and that employers must mitigate. Estimates are that around 14% (1-in-7) of people across the world are currently experiencing one or more mental or substance use disorders.

Dr Irene Lai, Medical Director at International SOS comments,

With travel and health risks on the rise in many regions, it is important for organisations to also focus on mitigating the ongoing impact of mental health issues. Although other acute medical issues which may have a significant impact regularly arise, mental health problems remain in the background and cannot be overlooked. Organisations must handle multiple physical and mental health issues to effectively maintain their Duty of Care responsibilities.

Organisations could look to use all the tools they have at their disposal to make this challenge more manageable. For instance, the detail provided by the Risk Map can help decision- makers better protect their staff, gauging which locations are challenged with access to medical care, or are particularly vulnerable to mental health issues.

One of the notable improvements in medical risk is the Caribbean islands, largely due to the easing of COVID-related travel restrictions.

The medical risk for Mali has increased to ‘Very High’ as the security environment is complex. This has led a challenging humanitarian situation and is resulting in the weakening of healthcare systems against increased demand.

The Risk Map also provides a better understanding of the wider security situation in countries which mobile workers may be travelling through or working in. Which in turn, helps inform organisations to be able to create tailored solutions to mitigate the specific risks that their workforces may encounter.

Security: Crisis in Ukraine Brings Variation to the European Security Situation

The major security crisis from the past year has undoubtedly been the conflict in Ukraine. This has been reflected in the security focused map, as parts of Ukraine are now marked as having an ‘Extreme’ level of security risk.

Sally Llewellyn, Security Director at International SOS comments,

The security crisis in Ukraine has clearly been significant, impacting both the country and bordering regions in a number of ways. At International SOS, we have worked with a variety of organisations through this challenging period, often directly supporting them with all their security, health, and travel needs. For instance, we have organised evacuations for large multinationals, helping some of their workforce leave Ukraine where necessary. We also support organisations who have remained in Ukraine, providing on-the-ground assistance and timely information on the risks which may impact them. This is particularly important for NGOs, for the media, and for professional services companies, where many Ukrainian employees now want to return home to visit loved ones.

Despite the wide-reaching impact of the Ukraine conflict and the rise in social unrest associated with cost-of-living increases, the underlying security risk environment across Europe has not changed.

Outside of Ukraine the most notable risk rating increases have been in the Sahel where extreme security risk zones have expanded due to the rising risk of militancy – a trend also notable in Mozambique and other parts of Africa.

Whilst in Colombia, a rise in criminality resulting in part from the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in high-risk zones.

Employees are more attuned to risks, and many are now more anxious about travel than pre-pandemic. Organisations must account for risk rating changes and trends in their planning. Managers should ensure employees have access to reliable information about the risks they may face, support with effective mitigation measures, and provide clear communication plans for employees before and during higher risk travel.

Notes to Editors

The Risk Map is an important risk management tool, which assesses medical and security risks on a five-level scale - from ‘Low’ to ‘Very High’ for the medical map, and ‘Insignificant’ to ‘Extreme’ for the security map . The map uses a combination of internal and external data which International SOS’ expert team analyses.

The 2023 Risk Outlook report launches on 8 December 2022. If you would like to learn about the report in depth, join one of our 2023 Risk Outlook webinars which start on 8 December 2022. Register your interest here.

International SOS offers a number of products and services related to mental wellness, alleviating the challenge for organisational leaders, and helping employees develop greater mental resilience.

About the International SOS Group of Companies
The International SOS Group of Companies is in the business of saving lives, protecting your global workforce from health and security threats. Wherever you are, we deliver customised health, security risk management and wellbeing solutions to fuel your growth and productivity. In the event of extreme weather, an epidemic or a security incident, we provide an immediate response providing peace of mind. Our innovative technology and medical and security expertise focus on prevention, offering real-time, actionable insights and on-the-ground quality delivery. We help protect your people, your organisation's reputation, as well as support your compliance reporting needs. By partnering with us, organisations can fulfil their Duty of Care responsibilities, while empowering business resilience, continuity and sustainability.

Founded in 1985, the International SOS Group, headquartered in London & Singapore, is trusted by more than 9,000 organisations, including the majority of the Fortune 500, as well as mid-size enterprises, governments, educational institutions and NGOs. 13,000 multicultural medical, security and logistics experts stand with you to provide support & assistance from over 1,200 locations in 90 countries, 24/7, 365 days.

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