Registration of global travel by MUSC faculty, staff, trainees and students has increased markedly since the university and the Center for Global Health (CGH) implemented a mandatory international travel registration program in early 2014. MUSC recognizes the need for travel security and health safeguards to protect employees while they are in the field. In January 2014, MUSC adopted the MUSC International Travel Policy to promote safe, international travel and to ensure the institution is better positioned to locate and communicate with faculty, staff, trainees and students traveling abroad so that we may provide support in the event of a crisis such as a natural disaster, political unrest or a medical emergency. This policy outlines requirements for individuals traveling internationally for University-related purposes and was developed by the MUSC Center for Global Health under the Office of the Provost with extensive input from administrative and academic offices as well as faculty and student leaders across campus.
To better service university members, MUSC contracts with International SOS to provide emergency medical, security and travel assistance to those traveling abroad for university-related purposes at no cost to the individual traveler. The International SOS network of specialists operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year from International SOS Assistance Centers around the world. International SOS provides travelers with assistance in pre-travel preparations, including detailed country reports on culture, security, visa and vaccination requirements, transportation, climate, telephone advice and referrals, lost document assistance, translations, and up to full-scale evacuations in the event of a medical or security emergency.
The MUSC International Travel Policy requires all members of the university to register their travel through the ISOS/MUSC web portal or International SOS’s MyTrips application, which gives university officials and International SOS responders the ability to pinpoint where individuals are and how to best assist them in the case of an emergency.
Since the MUSC International Travel Policy was implemented, 419 faculty, staff, trainees and students have registered trips to 58 countries across the globe as of March 2015. Below is a breakdown of travel registered for more than 14 months of data compiled from International SOS’s Travel Tracker application.
To date, the MUSC community has traveled for a total of 4,521 days. The majority of travel took place during the month of May 2014, with a total of 84 trips. Of these trips, nearly two-thirds were taken by students, which is likely due to service learning trips taking place in the spring and summer months. Central and South America were the most traveled regions of the world, with Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States at a distant second comprising 41 percent and 25 percent, respectively, of travel.
The data suggests that, year-to-year, the majority of students plan and participate in global trips between March and June. Overall, members of the MUSC community are currently traveling for an average 10.8 days to 58 countries.
Purpose of Travel
MUSC travelers embark on journeys abroad for numerous reasons. Chief among them are medical trips to care for patients in remote, underserved settings (180 total trips) and attending and/or presenting scholarly global health research at international conferences (143 total trips). This is illustrative of the increasing commitment MUSC has in enhancing the health of populations across the world through research and clinical care.
Where are we going?
MUSC has dedicated itself to serving vulnerable populations in the U.S. and abroad. Of the 58 countries traveled, 15 (26 percent) are low- to lower-middle income countries, according to the World Bank’s latest low-income economy data. Total travel days for low- to lower-middle income countries is 1,933 days or roughly 43 percent of travel days for all MUSC travel. Below is a chart showing the top ten countries traveled by MUSC faculty, staff, students and trainees (Uganda, Nicaragua, Tanzania and Haiti are low- to lower-middle income countries in the top ten countries list comprising a total of 112 trips to these countries).
Leaders at MUSC and the public health community at-large continue to monitor and urge precautions for travel to Ebola stricken countries in West Africa. While the epidemic rages on, attention has largely died down since news broke that the outbreak was seemingly beyond the control of the public health and medical community. MUSC has prepared itself for the rare instance that an Ebola stricken patient makes his/her way into its Specialized Medical Unit (SMU). Any faculty, staff or student travel to Ebola-affected countries should follow the direction of MUSC’s policies as communicated by MUSC President David Cole on November 4, 2014 which adheres to the guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of March 11, 2015, there has been no self-reported travel to any Ebola stricken countries by MUSC personnel, be they faculty, staff or students. The Center for Global Health constantly monitors its tracking resources and follows university protocol should someone pursue travel to an Ebola stricken country.
MUSC is increasing its global presence every day. In order to successfully track, report and showcase the impacting work being done by MUSC employees around the world, you must register your qualified travel on International SOS by visiting the following link: https://mytrips.travelsecurity.com/Login.aspx?ci=%2bdOIPuYh4Ew%3d