The travel clinic: point of reference for travellers

Never before have so many people travelled as extensively as today. This does pose health risks, of course, such as the Zika virus or malaria, to name but two examples. For many globetrotters, the ‘Tropical Institute’ is the obvious point of reference both before and after the trip.

ITM has always helped people who return home from abroad with an illness. That is why the Institute is located in the port city of Antwerp, close to the former Congo docks and easily accessible to the colonialists and seafarers of days past.

Today the travel clinic provides medical travel advice to tourists, business travellers and migrants, both at ITM itself as well as over the phone and Internet. Every year the travel phone processes more than 10,000 calls, the website reisgeneeskunde.be welcomes about 300,000 surfers, and about 30,000 consultations take place. ITM provides 24/7 advice over the phone to doctors who have questions about diseases in foreign countries. These don’t necessarily need to be tropical diseases. Sometimes there are risks when travelling within Europe, to sub-tropical regions or to the mountains.

The travel clinic helps people make medical preparations for their trip, such as vaccines, but also assists them with any problems they may experience when returning home. If patients have to be admitted, they are hospitalised at the University Hospital of Antwerp, under the supervision of ITM’s medical staff.

The Institute is also the linchpin of the Belgian Scientific Study Group on Travel Medicine. This group ensures, among other things, that travelling citizens obtain the same scientifically substantiated advice throughout the entire country and can go to various locations for their vaccinations.