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Expatriate Employee Health and Wellbeing information

These conditions of service are only applicable for those staff employed at UCL Qatar

UCL Q: Expatriate Employee Health and Wellbeing information

Health and wellbeing issues; long stay travel checklist

UCL, working in partnership with the Qatar Foundation, is creating UCL Qatar, a world-class research-led facility, focusing on the cultures and societies of the Middle East, and including the study of Islamic material culture and early technology. For staff considering the opportunity to relocate to Qatar, pre-travel planning is vitally important. This general note for expatriate workers sets out some of the checks that you may wish to consider ahead of your trip.  

Before you go:

Cultural and Change issues…many expatriates find it difficult to adapt to a new culture, but good pre travel preparation is usually helpful. If you are going to be based in one area, try to learn a little about the language and culture before you go. Try and talk to others that have worked in the area about their experiences, they may be able to offer some useful advice. UCL Qatar offers cultural awareness training, for you and your family, through Babel Language and Cultural Training specialists. Details of this programme will be made available as part of the appointment process. There is also information available from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on local laws and customs.

When applying for a residency permit …you (and your family over the age of 14 years) will be required to undergo blood tests for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C and a Chest x-ray in Qatar. If these are positive (show infection) you will be detained and then deported.  There is no appeal process. You are strongly recommended to have the blood tests prior to travelling, you will only be offered a chest x-ray if clinically indicated.  UCL has an arrangement with the FLEET STREET CLINIC, 29 Fleet Street London EC4Y 1AA, who will arrange these tests for you and for your family. UCL will meet the costs for these tests. To arrange an appointment, just call 0207 353 5678 and say that you are a member of UCL staff relocating to Qatar. Advise the clinic staff if you are making an appointment for your family members too and if you require a travel health consultation for vaccinations, in addition to the appointment for blood tests, so that they can allow sufficient appointment time.

Seek advice about vaccinations well in advance…to ensure that you have sufficient time to develop immunity following vaccination; see additional information on Immunisation against Infectious Disease below. You may also make an appointment with the FLEET STREET CLINIC (Details above).  Advise the clinic that you require a travel health consultation for vaccination, in addition to the appointment for blood tests. UCL will meet the cost of the travel consultation and the cost of vaccines for travel to Qatar for you and your family.

If you have any current medical conditions or are taking regular medications… get a health check with your GP before you leave and ensure that you have arrangements in place to obtain regular medication. It is helpful to carry a list of the medication you require with the generic names (rather than the brand name) of the drug. Carry a doctor’s letter and copy of prescriptions.

Ask your doctor if your medical condition could be made worse by working in hot climates… so that you can make an informed decision about any risks to your health. In July and August midday temperatures often exceed 42°C (108°F) on the coast and humidity can reach 100%. 

Mental Health Issues… facilities and local attitudes to mental health problems may differ from those in the UK. For further advice is available in the FCO leaflet 'No health without mental health'.

Have a dental check up…ideally a number of months before you go.

UCL provides Travel Health Insurance…check that it is adequate for your needs. The advice line number for any pre-travel assistance is 020 7173 7797

Consider going on a first aid course… and buy a first aid book to take with you.

Check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice… www.fco.gov.uk so that you are familiar with the safety and security issues in the area.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office recommend that you register your details with LOCATE(if you are a British National travelling or living abroad (or planning to do so). It only takes a few minutes to register your travel or residence information online and the local British Embassy will know you are coming. You do not need to contact them directly.

At the destination:

Protect skin from the sun’s harmful rays…with hats, clothing and sun screens (especially with children).

If you are visiting rural or suburban areas…avoid sandfly bites by using effective repellents and, if staying overnight, consider sleeping under insecticide treated bed nets. Leishmaniasis is spread by the bite of infected sandflies. The most common forms are cutaneous leishmaniasis, which causes skin sores, and visceral leishmaniasis, which affects some of the internal organs of the body. Leishmaniasis is more common in rural areas, but does occur in the outskirts of some cities. The risk is highest from dusk to dawn.

Be patient with cultural differences and limit your expectations (tasks can take much longer to complete in some countries). Expatriates should try to make friends with the local population as well as other expatriates

Support Services:

UCL provide an Employee Assistance Programme to their employees to support them and their families. This service is available 24hrs a day 365 days a year. The number to contact from outside the UK is +44(0)20 8987 6574 or through the EAP website www.workplaceoptions.co.uk . The login is UCL; Password: employee. The service provides support and guidance for any practical or emotional issues. All your issues will be answered by experienced, professionally qualified counsellors and information specialists. You can even have short-term telephone counselling and mentored computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (cCBT). In addition to regular topics on health, living, wellbeing ageing and parenting, there is an ‘International’ section about living and working abroad and about families abroad

Immunisation against Infectious Disease:

Before travelling to Qatar, you should check with your GP that your standard UK vaccination is up to date. This includes Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio vaccination. Most adults brought up in the UK will be up to date with these vaccinations as they are given in childhood. However, if you need a booster of any of these vaccinations, you will automatically receive a combined booster of Tetanus, Diphtheria and Polio.  In addition it is recommended that you are vaccinated against Hepatitis A, which is spread by contaminated food and water.

For more detailed information about vaccine preventable infections visit:
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/occ_health/what_do_we_do/vaccine_preventable.php

Other Infections to be considered for vaccination are:

The risks for these infections and the need for vaccination, for both you and your family, will depend on a number of factors including medical history, work activity or lifestyle. The need for vaccination should be discussed with your GP / Travel Health Adviser.

Other health risks exist that cannot be vaccinated against, so ensure good hand hygiene, effective insect bite precautions and take care with food and water hygiene. Ensure meat is cooked well and from a reliable source.

NB This advice is general and a travel risk assessment should be undertaken by your Travel Health Adviser to take account of your particular needs.

Other Sources of information:

Health Advice for Travellers is the Department of Health’s website and provides useful guidelines on travel health including how to get treatment overseas.
www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_4123441

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office site offers up to date information on travel safety for destinations through out the world.
http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation provides details regarding world-wide disease outbreaks.
http://www.who.int/en/