Return on Prevention - Investing in health programmes for business travellers and international assignees.

"Return on Prevention" is the title of a new study by Prevent, which was commissioned by the International SOS Foundation. 

The study analyses the challenges regarding prevention for companies that employ staff abroad or who's staff partakes in international assignments. The report discusses the costs and benefits of prevention measures and studies the case of a multinational that regularly assigns its staff to regions with an elevated risk due to isolation, specific health risks or a lack of reliable medical facilities. 

Pre-travel health checks

One of the prevention measures examined in the study are the medical checks for employees before assigning them to a foreign country. These pre-travel health checks explore if employees are fit for the scheduled assignment and the local working conditions. 

The cost-benefit analysis showed that 1 dollar invested returns to a benefit ranging from 1.6 dollar (minimum scenario) to 2.53 dollar (maximum scenario).

Malaria prevention programme

The study also looked at a malaria prevention programme aimed at employees traveling and working in malaria-risk regions. Employees are given information on the risks before departure, and receive prophylaxis medication and other technical protection means such as mosquito-nets, insecticide sprays and repellents as well as a malaria curative kit.

The studied malaria prevention programme reduced the occurrence of fatal cases by 70%. The benefits also outweigh the costs in the case of this programme: for each dollar invested, the return was estimated at 1.32 dollar. 

Investing in prevention programmes pays off

Businesses are more and more active across borders, which increases the international mobility of the employees. This also includes risks. Organisations and companies take measures to protect the health and safety of their employees because of legal and moral responsibilities. But, these measures also generate an economic benefit by ensuring that expensive assignments abroad don't fail. Measures to prevent health problems of employees working overseas or on assignment are therefore also economically sound decisions. 

International SOS Foundation provides medical and travel security assistance for employees abroad through studies and the sharing of knowledge.