Travel medicine origin and evolution of travel medicine as a specialty

Over the past 25 years a new specialty has evolved to address the needs of travelers, especially those who visit resource-poor regions (Hill, 2006). Travel medicine has been defined as the "discipline devoted to the maintenance of the health of international travelers through health promotion and disease prevention" (Kozarsky and Keystone, 2004). It is an interdisciplinary specialty with a global focus, by integrating an understanding of global health issues into the care of travelers. Pioneers in the field advocated analyzing epidemiological data to define risks associated with travel, and ways to reduce them (Steffen, 1991).

Travel medicine focuses on prevention involving such specialties as clinical tropical medicine, infectious diseases, public health, occupational health, high-altitude and diving medicine, wilderness medicine, travel-related women's health and pediatric medicine, psychiatry, migration medicine, environmental health, and military medicine. The International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM) was established in 1991 from this multi-disciplinary interest. In the globalized economy, the business community is also drawing upon the expertise of travel-medicine specialists as companies send workers and their families to other countries for extended periods.

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