HPA Magazine 18
A pharmacy will not always be available or it might not be possible to buy medicine without a prescription, so it is important to be prepared for the most frequent situations.
Once you have chosen the destination, find out if specific vaccinations are necessary. Some vaccines only become effective after a certain period or might require a booster dose. It may make sense to schedule a travellers consultation in advance. This is recommended 1-2 months before departure.
When traveling abroad, we must bear in mind that food, climate and customs may be different from our own, which may lead to increased health risks. To take care of any unforeseen circumstances, we must know which diseases are more common in the region and the availability of health facilities (do not forget to find out where hospitals and pharmacies are situated in the holiday destination).
The general type of medication to be taken on holiday could be:
• Single doses of saline solution, thermometer, bandage, single doses of disinfectant (e.g. Betadine®), plasters, sterile compresses, scissors, tweezers, etc.
• Cream for nappy rash.
• Wet wipes and tissues.
• Antipyretics/anti-inflammatory drugs: paracetamol and ibuprofen - dosage according to the child's weight (very useful in situations of fever or acute pain, earache, sore throat, etc.).
• Oral antihistamine or ointment, for allergies.
• Probiotic and oral rehydration solution for diarrhoea and vomiting.
• In case of a pre-existing disease the usual medication or other medication that might become useful depending on the child's medical history.
• Repellent with adequate protection against insects that transmit malaria, dengue and yellow fever in endemic countries. The repellent must contain DEET or IR3535 (active ingredients).
• Sunscreen and after-sun moisturizing cream.
• Nasal spray, for nasal congestion.
• Laxative/enemas for constipation.
• It might make sense to take some antibiotics. Over-the-counter medication can pose a real problem abroad.
Before the trip, you should book an appointment with the paediatrician, to help with the list of medication necessary, according to the possible needs of your child.
Pay special attention to packing medication.
In the case of air travel, there are specific rules for transporting medication in the hand luggage, but remember that you need to have access to them during the trip, or in case of loss/delay of luggage in the hold (you can consult each airline’s specifications on the respective website of the National Civil Aviation Agency).
Ideally, for control purposes by airport security, you should have a copy of the medical prescription, containing the name of the active substance and the dosage of the medication.
Generally, there are no restrictions on medication in pill or capsule form. The same does not apply to liquid form medication in hand luggage. These must be transported in sealed packages. They cannot exceed a maximum volume of 100 ml (a maximum of 1 litter per passenger), inside a plastic bag, similar to that of personal hygiene articles.
If you are going to travel within Europe, consider applying for the European Health Insurance Card (https://www.seg-social.pt/pedido-cartao-europeu-seguro-doenca), which allows you access to public health care services in the country to where you are travelling. If you are traveling outside Europe, it is advisable to take out travel insurance.
When transporting children in a rented vehicle, make sure you book a car seat suitable for the age/size of your child.
A reminder about drinking non-bottled water in some destinations. It is not always good quality for consumption, so you should pay special attention when washing food, pacifiers or bottles.
Finally, take small size family snacks that can be useful for airport delays or during take-off/landing to prevent earache.