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The COVID-19 Challenge: Delivering International Health And Medical Services During A Pandemic Featured

In The iPMI Picture: Mike Webb, CEO of Healix International. In The iPMI Picture: Mike Webb, CEO of Healix International.

Despite air travel being at a historic all-time low and practically the whole world in lockdown, over the last four months global travel risk management and international medical and security assistance provider, Healix International, has provided a crucial service to individuals abroad.

Key data

  • Arranged over 100 medical repatriations
  • Handled almost 5,300 medical helpline calls
  • Immense network of agents, fixers on the ground and anyone with the potential to assist in getting aircraft into and out of often remote locations, ensured that those unwell and unable to return to the UK through normal routes have been assisted

During the last four months, COVID-19 has presented new challenges to international medical assistance, such as sourcing testing for patients in some of the most remote locations around the world, securing an isolation pod transfer of positive patients, and securing intensive care admissions during a pandemic both within and outside of the UK. There has also often been delicate negotiation required behind the scenes for diplomatic permits to allow access into a country.

Mike Webb, CEO of Healix International commented: “Since mid-March we have been faced with a multifaceted sequence of events that not only changed daily, but pushed us into unknown territory when it comes to repatriation. Borders closed in a domino effect across the world, aircrafts were unable to land to retrieve patients as a result and additional bureaucratic hurdles needed to be jumped.

RELATED READING: iPMI Magazine Speaks With Mike Webb, CEO, Healix International

“A typical day could comprise repatriation challenges for patients in India, Afghanistan, Iraq, DRC, Somalia and South Sudan. The complexity of each case is so individualised; based on location, nationality and capabilities of the local provider, each case demanding undivided focus and attention that have seen 12-hour days disappear in a flash.

“One thing the pandemic highlighted was that collaboration is crucial. Effective teamwork, a multipronged approach reaching across our provider network, together with diversity and forward thinking, allowed us to repatriate/evacuate patients safely. Our teams are highly experienced individuals and are well versed in delivering a service in challenging circumstances. While the pandemic has brought us new logistical challenges, our clients also had the assurance we are always working within the UK government’s guidance as well as those of the specific client and country, to ensure the safety and health of all involved.”

Alongside the repatriation team, Healix International’s medical desk has been working intensively medically managing cases, liaising with medical teams all over the world and working in partnership to try to facilitate repatriation where possible. Where patients were unable to return home for whatever reason, the teams provided long term medical plans to ensure their health and safety whilst waiting for the world to reopen.

Now as travel corridors are opened up – enabling travellers to more than 50 countries to return to the UK without having to quarantine - the focus on the wellbeing of employees working abroad becomes ever more critical as Mike Webb explained:

“Now as we enter the next phase, with lockdown easing in many countries and the UK reducing restrictions on those coming from numerous countries around the world, we are preparing ourselves for a new set of challenges. Businesses cannot operate via virtual conference tools forever; business critical travel needs to resume, and for many, that needs to happen now. However, employee expectations and legislation have drastically changed and organisations across every industry are faced with the difficulty of demonstrating their duty of care obligations to their employees in an incredibly complex operating environment, particularly when it comes to weighing up the risks of international travel.

“In response we have developed COVID Travel Safe a one-of-a-kind layered risk assessment tool that has been designed to enable business travel within a pandemic, and to provide instant assessments of the medical and logistical risks posed by each and every unique proposed travel itinerary.”

Healix International is a global provider of travel risk management and international medical, security and travel assistance services. Working on behalf of multinationals, governments, NGOs and insurers they look after the welfare of expatriates, travellers, offshore workers and local nationals in every country of the world.

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Medical, Travel And Technical Assistance


A guide to leading international medical and travel assistance companies and providers, operating within leisure, expatriate and corporate business travel markets globally.