Among the most important responsibilities of a faculty leader is the health and well-being of all program participants. Leaders must take every reasonable precaution to prepare for and monitor any health issues that may face their students and themselves.
Health Consultations and Immunizations
Education Abroad recommends that all participants consult with the Lafene Travel Clinic or another medical professional to determine whether immunizations are recommended or required for the countries to which they will travel. Lafene recommends that their consultations take place at least two months prior to the study tour’s departure, in case a series of shots or other longer-term care is required.
To schedule an appointment at Lafene Travel Clinic, call (785) 532-6544. The clinic is located at 1105 Sunset Avenue, Manhattan, Kansas. There is no charge for travel clinic appointments. Charges do apply for immunizations, physical exams, or medications purchased through the Lafene Pharmacy For more information, please visit the Lafene Travel Clinic website.
International Health Insurance
Kansas State University requires that all participants on faculty-led programs have active international health insurance policies for the duration of the study tour and any University-sponsored travel abroad. Education Abroad will order insurance for all committed participants within the month prior to departure. If the insurance is needed more than one month in advance of the program’s departure, faculty leader should notify Education Abroad to place an early order. Participants enrolled in international health insurance plans other than the university plan and wish to waive the university plan must confirm with the Director of Education Abroad that their plans include similar coverage.
If students are planning to travel before or after the program and wish to purchase insurance for those additional days, they are welcome to purchase additional health insurance coverage through the university plan using our student application form. Faculty may access more information and an faculty application form separately.
In many other countries, most doctors and hospitals do not recognize U.S. insurance for automatic billing. In most cases participants will need to pay at the time of medical treatment and submit a claim to the university provider for reimbursement. For this reason all students are instructed to carry emergency funding, preferably in the form of a credit or ATM card, to pay for medical services they may need. Please remember to advise students to keep all medical receipts as these will be required for reimbursement from the insurance provider.
To file a claim, program participants may contact the Emergency Response Center at 1 (800) 527-0218 or at 1 (410) 453-6330. Be sure to have readily available the ID number on the insurance card, the individual's first and last name and date of birth, your current location, and the specific medical issue. The Emergency Response Center may request additional information during the phone call.
Region-Specific Health Issues
Faculty leaders and participants should familiarize themselves with specific health issues for the world regions to which they will travel. Issues of concern may include diphtheria/tetanus, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, malaria, polio, rabies, SARS, typhoid, tuberculosis, yellow fever, Zika, or other diseases and conditions. Even if you have traveled to your destination previously, be aware that prevailing conditions can and often do change rapidly. Notices, precautions, and warnings of region-specific health issues are routinely updated on the websites for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization.
Education Abroad recommends and the Lafene Travel Clinic requests that Lafene representatives present region-specific health information to your students at one of your pre-departure meetings. To arrange Lafene’s participation, simply contact the Education Abroad Office at (785) 532-5990 or Lafene directly at (785) 532-6544.
Additional Health Policies and Procedures
Kansas State University does not permit the use, possession, or distribution of alcohol during any University-sponsored study abroad program time, unless it is pre-approved by Education Abroad based upon demonstrated educational and cultural benefits to the student(s). Participants shall be allowed to opt out of participation in any such event. Other than these pre-approved events, use, possession, or distribution of alcohol is not permitted during program time and is not a reimbursable expense for the faculty leader. Participants should also inform themselves and abide by the host country’s laws and customs related to alcohol consumption. Education Abroad recommends that faculty with pre-approved alcohol-related events communicate transparently and explicitly with students the academic outcomes and rationale for such events.
Probably the most common illness for travelers abroad is diarrhea. Symptoms can range from mild to very severe and can come on quickly. The faculty leader should make sure that participants understand how to avoid and treat traveler’s diarrhea:
In the event a participant requires emergency surgery, the faculty leader should make every effort to put the individual directly in contact with his or her emergency contact(s) and U.S. health care provider. It is ideal if the participant’s family and health care provider can discuss the situation with medical personnel in the host country to determine a treatment plan. The faculty leader should not, under any circumstances, give medical advice.
First Aid Kit
Faculty leaders should prepare their own and encourage all program participants to travel with small first aid kits appropriate for the destination and length of stay of the study tour. Unless the faculty leader is a licensed physician, students should determine on their own what medications to take in their kits and how to administer these medications to themselves.
Suggested items to include in a first aid kit for your tour include:
- Pain medicines, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen
- Cough and cold medicines
- Antacids and anti-diarrheals
- Decongestants and antihistamines
- Medicine for motion sickness or altitude sickness
- Skin care products like antibiotic ointment, adhesive bandages, hydrocortisone cream, lip balm, and sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15
- Hand wipes and hand sanitizers
- Rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide
- First aid equipment, including scissors, tweezers, nail clippers, a pocket knife, earplugs, and a thermometer
Insect bites always should cause concern, not only on account of physical discomfort but also because of insect-borne infectious diseases such as malaria. The faculty leader should make sure that all participants take precautions to minimize exposure depending on local conditions.
Kansas State prohibits participants from using, carrying, and trafficking illegal drugs during the program. Participants are subject to the laws of the countries to which they travel, so laws differ greatly as to which drugs are considered legal. They be arrested for possession of illegal prescription drugs, particularly tranquilizers and amphetamines, that they purchased legally in the United States or elsewhere. Travelers may be arrested for purchasing prescription drugs abroad in quantities that local authorities suspected were for commercial use. When in doubt about drug law, ask local authorities or the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Jet lag is a form of sleep disturbance that results in fatigue, irritability, and sometimes disorientation. The faculty leader should address how to adjust to the daylight patterns of the host destination with participants. While not dangerous in and of itself, jet lag can impair your awareness and judgment and increase health or safety risks.
Participants with serious conditions (such as allergies, diabetes, and epilepsy) may want to wear a Medic Alert emblem. For more information, visit the Medic Alert Foundation International website.
Medical Facilities Abroad
Medical treatment varies throughout the world in terms of cultural practices, medical training, supplies, and facilities. Faculty leaders should familiarize themselves with health care practices in the countries to which they will travel and help acquaint students with these practices. Obtaining and internalizing this information prior to program departure will save you valuable time in the event of a health emergency.
Faculty leaders should ask participants to plan carefully the prescription medications they may need while abroad. Encourage participants to meet with a physician before departure for advice on traveling with prescription medications and how to adjust taking prescription medications in order to reduce the risk of overdosing or under-dosing as a result of time zone changes.
Prescription medicines are not always as readily available abroad as in the United States. Your participants and you should plan for additional refills of a prescription before departure and avoid, if at all possible, filling prescriptions while abroad.
All medications should be transported in their original, labeled container along with documentation of the prescription to avoid problems with customs law and officials. If carrying a prescription, be sure it is up-to-date and includes drug’s generic name, instructions, dosage, and reason for prescribing the drug.
Always keep prescription medications in your carry-on bags while in transit. Once at your destination, it is a good idea to keep a few pills on your person and then the remainder in a secured location at your lodging.
Check with the foreign embassy of the country you are visiting to make sure that none of the prescription medications are considered illegal in that country.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, Hepatitis B, herpes, and HIV/AIDS pose health risks in every country, as does the HIV virus. The faculty leader should inform students of these risks and urge them to make wise decisions.
Student Health Information and Special Needs Questionnaire
We ask all students participating on a Kansas State University faculty-led programs to complete a Voluntary Disclosure of Health Information and Special Needs Questionnaire as part of their online application. The Education Abroad Office reviews these forms to determine if a staff member should discuss a disclosed health issue with a student. We also will grant the faculty leader reviewer’s permission to review these applications.
Is climbing Mt. Fuji part of your program? Will you conduct field research in hot weather? What about hiking in an area with poisonous snakes? Are traffic conditions hazardous? Faculty leaders should outline any special risks and appropriate precautions to participants.