Public Health Considerations for Australian Medical Assistance Teams Going to the Asia-Pacific Area

This document provides recommendations for public health practitioners who are traveling to disaster-affected areas in the Asia-Pacific area as a member of an Australian government health team.

Page last updated: 30 May 2007

DRAFT 14 February 2007

The purpose of this document is to provide recommendations for public health practitioners who are traveling to disaster-affected areas in the Asia-Pacific area as a member of an Australian government health team. The information is a guide only and should be adjusted according to the situation at hand.

Information resources for team members

Team members should be briefed face to face about their personal safety before, during and on return from the disaster affected areas. Issues to discuss include:
  • Risk of injury and measure to prevent injury
  • Risk of acquiring an infectious disease and measures to prevent infection, including immunisations, supply of safe food and water, avoidance of mosquito bites (through repellents, covering skin, mosquito nets, and permethrin impregnated clothing), use of antimalarial medicines,
  • Avoidance of sunburn (through covering up, hats, and sun block)
  • Acclimatization
  • Heat/dehydration illness
  • Mental health issues
  • A confidential system for monitoring and managing the health of team members

Written materials should be provided to team members. Examples include the documents:
  • Health Advice for Australian Medical Assistance Teams Going to the Asia-Pacific Area
  • Health Advice for Australian Medical Assistance Teams Returning from the Asia-Pacific Area

Equipment relevant to the team’s occupational health and safety


In addition to personal protection provided to each team member, the team should carry a supply of the following materials for use if required:
  • A bottle of sunscreen for each team member
  • A bottle of alcohol based hand gel for each team member
  • A container of mosquito repellent (containing DEET or Picaridin) for each team member
  • A mosquito bed net for each team member
  • Five litres of permethrin to impregnate each team members’ clothes and for local vector (fly and mosquito) control
  • A compression sprayer (hand-driven sprayer, Rega or equivalent brand)
  • Protocols for impregnating clothes, and for applying pesticide to reducing mosquitoes and other insects around the team’s living quarters, and for constructing a latrine
  • 6 shovels
  • bottled water for drinking
  • prepared food
  • condoms
  • diesel/petrol for burning waste
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Medicines to treat or prevent illness among team members

The medical cache accompanying assistance teams is likely to include medicines to treat illnesses encountered by team members. However it is important to check that it includes:
  • A least 3 courses of rabies post exposure prophylaxis (rabies immunoglobulin and vaccine) in case of animal bite or scratch (with appropriate mechanisms to ensure cold chain)
  • At least 3 courses of HIV post-exposure prophylaxis in case of exposure (advice on the best regime should be obtained from an HIV specialist before departure), and a 24-hour contact number to obtain expert advice on its application
  • At least one course of oseltamivir for each team member (if traveling to an area prone to avian influenza)
  • At least 3 courses of tetanus immunoglobulin and vaccine
  • antimicrobials (e.g., oral azithromycin, ciprofloxacin, cephalexin, tinidazole, sofradex)
  • intravenous sets
  • needles and syringes
  • intravenous antibiotics
  • intravenous fluids and plasma expanders
  • malaria rapid detection
  • antimalarial treatment (e.g., artemether-lumefantrine or quinine)
  • extra antimalarial prophylaxis
  • dressings
  • povidine-iodine
  • oral rehydration solution.
  • anti-diarrhoeal medication (e.g., loperamide),
  • pain reliever (e.g., paracetamol)
  • cold/sinus medication (paracetamol + pseudoephedrine)
  • Emergency dental kit

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Disclaimer

This document provides recommendations for public health practitioners who are traveling to disaster-affected areas in the Asia-Pacific area as a member of an Australian government health team.

These guidelines capture the knowledge of experienced professionals, build on past research efforts, and provide advice on best practice based upon the best available evidence at the time of completion.

The guidelines are necessarily general and readers should not rely solely on the information contained within these guidelines. The information contained within these guidelines is not intended to be a substitute for advice from other relevant sources including, but not limited to, the advice from a health professional. These guidelines are intended for information purposes only.

The information contained within these guidelines is based upon best available evidence at the time of completion. The membership of the Communicable Disease Network Australia (‘CDNA’) and the Commonwealth of Australia (‘the Commonwealth’), as represented by the Department of Health and Ageing, does not warrant or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, or process disclosed at the time of viewing by interested parties.

The CDNA and the Commonwealth expressly disclaim all and any liability to any person, in respect of anything and of the consequences of anything done or omitted to be done by any person in reliance, whether in whole or in part, upon the whole or any part of the contents of this publication.