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Going abroad to study? Be sure to take these 3 medical tests

In recent years, many countries have upped their medical test requirements for those entering on student and work visas, so make health documentation part of your travel and visa prep
BY Dr. Sunita Yadav |   29-05-2017
Smiling woman wearing glasses, stethoscope, and white lab coat, holding a clipboard
(Image by Ilmicrofono Oggiono, used under CC license)

You’ve survived the arduous process of researching universities and applying for admission. You’ve endured the agonizing wait for that fat envelope – the acceptance letter. As if these two stages weren’t stressful enough, you must now go through the nerve-wracking visa application process.

Over the past few years, there has been an increase in the medical criteria for both student and work visas, in the wake of global epidemics such as ebola and swine flu. Some countries now require you to have a proper full-body checkup and a medical certificate from a ‘panel’ hospital from your home country. So if you plan to study abroad, it’s imperative to be aware of and well-versed with the medical tests you may need to undergo after you’re done with the application process.

Precautionary tests for communicable and non-communicable diseases are becoming part of the visa process to ensure that applicants who may be infected are identified before they reach the port of entry.

Medical test requirements vary depending on the criteria of the country whose visa you are seeking. In general, countries require a medical history review, physical examination, chest X-ray and blood tests for infectious diseases. Chest X-ray and blood tests are not usually required for children under the age of 15.

Ensure that your medical records and prescriptions for medication are up to date before you apply for a visa. Some of the most common tests are listed below.

  1. Blood Test: This can provide information about liver and kidney function, complete blood count (including red and white blood cells, platelets and hemoglobin), various types of Hepatitis, HPV and HIV. The pathologist will need a blood serum sample to perform these tests. No special preparation is required to undergo these tests.
     
  2. Urine Test: Urine analysis is used to detect conditions such as urinary tract infections, kidney disorders, liver problems, diabetes, and other metabolic conditions. Before undergoing a urine test, you need to provide complete information about any prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements you are taking. Medications can affect the results of urinalysis. If you suffer from any medical problems, you should carry a letter from your physician describing the medical condition and prescription medications, including the generic name of the prescribed drugs when you travel. Any medications that you take along should be in their original containers and should be clearly labeled.
     
  3. Chest X-ray: This is used to diagnose shortness of breath, persistent cough, fever, chest pain, and injury. It can also help diagnose and monitor treatment for a variety of lung conditions such as pneumonia, emphysema and cancer. This test requires no special preparation.

The following indications/conditions need attention.

Tuberculosis: An abnormal Chest X-ray and a positive Acid Fast Bacteria (AFB) screening test indicate tuberculosis. If you have ever had tuberculosis, you should carry with you a certificate signed by your doctor, stating that you were treated. This document should include the date and type of medication taken.

Ebola: Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (EHF) or Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a severe and infectious disease. To detect this disease, a blood sample will be withdrawn and tested for the presence of a specific antigen or antibody. Other tests may be required in certain cases to confirm it. If you ever been infected with ebola, you would need to carry a certificate signed by your doctor, saying that you were treated.

Pregnancy: If you undertake international travel in this condition, you require special care and must carry records of medical tests and clinical reports from your gynecologist. Generally, travel is most comfortable during the second trimester, and is uncomfortable during late pregnancy. Many countries require you to take certain vaccinations or other precautions that you may not be able to take if you are pregnant, or may have to take with special precautions. For instance, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instruct panel physicians and laboratories to provide expectant mothers with extra abdominal and pelvic protection using double-layer wrap-around lead shields when they undergo chest radiographs.

For any other chronic medical condition, you will need to present a medical certificate describing the condition, diagnosis, current treatment, prognosis, and details of any prescribed medications.

Good luck with your travel and studies!


Dr. Sunita Yadav is Head, Quality, at Dalmia Medicare


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