Background Malaria remains a significant cause of travel-related mortality and morbidity. Asians are known to have higher risks because they are less careful in pre-travel health preparations. This study reports on a cohort of travellers to malaria-prone regions examined in a previous study, which explored general levels of pre-travel health preparation.
Objectives To describe the preparations taken by travellers at Hong Kong International Airport going to destinations with significant malaria risks according to the WHO.
Method A cross-sectional survey was conducted by personal interviews at the boarding gates of flights in April 2013. The flights were chosen from those to malaria-prone regions (type I or above) from the 2012 WHO International Travel and Health Country List.
Results 403 respondents (75.6% Chinese ethnicity) were travelling to malaria-prone regions. 95.3% were travelling to developing countries including China, Thailand, Malaysia and India. 55.1% of respondents had taken at least one mosquito prevention measure and 8.9% of respondents had malaria chemoprophylaxis. Stepwise multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that female gender (OR=2.21, 95% CI 1.23 to 3.97), residence outside Hong Kong (OR=2.71, 95% CI 1.46 to 5.04) and travel including rural areas (OR=5.67, 95% CI 3.11 to 10.34) were predictors of optimum pre-travel health preparations.
Conclusions Underestimation of malaria risks was a major barrier to adequate pre-travel health preparations. Targeted health education and information about risk is necessary to improve levels of travel health preparedness.
- PUBLIC HEALTH