Doctors' Views

Y2K Travel Health Alert

A U.S. government travel advisory issued on December 14 has identified the health sector as "an area of particular concern" in the event of Y2K-related breakdowns in vital services.

Individuals who have existing medical conditions should consider carefully the advisability of overseas travel during this period.

Disruptions in sectors such as transportation during this period could affect the availability of air ambulance services and of medical and pharmaceutical supplies.

A breakdown of the power supply could impact medical services dependent on electricity.

Prolonged disruptions in the energy sector could jeopardize other vital services such as heat, water, and telephone service.

Individuals residing or traveling abroad, particularly in cold climates, should review their own contingency plans for such potential problems.

Travel Health Precautions

Individuals traveling or residing abroad are encouraged to take the following health-related precautionary measures prior to January 1,2000:

  • If you have special medical needs, consult with your physician before making travel plans.
  • If you are traveling to another country, you should be aware of the potential for the disruption of normal medical services.
  • Make sure your supply of medications and medical supplies is sufficient to last for the anticipated duration of your travel.
  • It would be "prudent" to contact your health insurance company to see if your policy covers Y2K-related problems in the health sector, overseas medical care and medical evacuation.
  • Review personal preparedness plans in the event of possible Y2K disruptions.

For Additional Y2K Information

For additional information about personal preparedness, please see the following websites:

  • MedicineNet Travel Medicine Forum
  • President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion -- at
  • American Red Cross -- at
  • Department of State Y2K web site -- at

This article incorporates information provided by the U.S. Department of State.

Last Editorial Review: 12/15/1999

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