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UK Government Renews Global Healthcare Contract With Healix International

New 5 year contract gives overseas staff and travelling workers from 19 government departments access to wide-ranging healthcare support.

Global travel risk management and international medical and security assistance provider, Healix International, has won an Open Procurement Procedure to be appointed by the UK Government to look after the global healthcare of its 25,000 travelling and overseas workers until 2025. The contract, under the One HMG banner, is the third successive renewal with Healix International and means it is now entering its tenth year of 24/7 365 day care for government staff and their families overseas. Working for 19 different departments including the Ministry of Defence (MOD), Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), the 5 year contract also includes an option to extend for a further two years, until 2027.

Central to the renewal of the Healix International contract was the commitment to ensure that government staff and their families receive a level of care equivalent to the NHS, even though healthcare in many of the countries in which they work operates at lower standards. The comprehensive health screening of UK government staff and their families before they go abroad was another crucial facet of the contract, ensuring that medical risks are anticipated and mitigated against wherever possible. The low level of medical repatriations carried out over the last contract period is testament to the effectiveness of the Healix screening process, combined with the high quality local medical support where it is needed.

As part of the five year contract Healix also delivers occupational health support for staff from FCDO and FCDO Services, two key government departments, as well as mental health support for all government employees abroad.  Greater focus has been placed on digitisation of processes, including the creation of a brand new One HMG global healthcare hub, enabling government staff and families to access all the medical resources they need from one centre of excellence.

“UK government staff and families live and work in over 190 different countries, with varying degrees of local medical care”, explained Russell Smith, Director of Government Services, Healix International. “It’s vital, therefore, that they know they and their families can access the healthcare support they need – to the same standards they would expect if they were in the UK.  We like overseas staff and their families to think of us as their overseas GP, where they can access all levels of primary and secondary medical healthcare just when they need it.”

The far-reaching package of care will incorporate:

  • Medical screening and risk mitigation for all travellers, overseas staff and their families
  • Elective and non-elective primary and secondary healthcare globally
  • Medical advice and second opinion
  • Emergency medical evacuation and repatriation
  • On-going medical case management
  • Ability to provide medical staff at overseas locations if required
  • Occupational Health for FCDO and FCDO Services employees abroad and in the UK including psychological assessments and remote support in the more difficult environments.

Mike Webb, CEO of Healix International added: “Now in our tenth year of working for the British government, I believe that the success of our longstanding relationship is down to keeping one step ahead of the changing requirements needed to keep the government’s overseas staff and their families, and their travelling workers, supported across all aspects of their healthcare.  In particular, as awareness of mental health issues increasingly comes to the forefront of society, we’re delighted to be extending the range of services we provide to government workers to include mental wellbeing support.

 “This latest renewal of our contract will also see us capitalise on digital innovation to provide government staff and their families with an ever-more streamlined process to access information and medical assistance when they need it.  Combined with our cost containment expertise, this means we can give government departments the confidence that the right care is provided to their employees whilst effectively managing their healthcare budgets.”

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. Healix provide a comprehensive, integrated range of solutions to help safeguard the health and security of their clients’ employees, providing a single point of contact to access the expertise and help they may need, wherever they are in the world, 24/7.

For more information please visit: www.healix.com

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COVID-19 And Its Impact On The Middle East And North Africa (MENA) Region

Jacob Weiss – Global Threat Analyst – MENA for global travel risk management and international medical and security assistance provider, Healix International, provides an insight into the impact of COVID-19 in the Middle East and North Africa.

The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread to every country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with the impact likely to be immediate and long-lasting. Before the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the region, large-scale protest movements fuelled by economic inequality had already spread across Iraq, Algeria and Lebanon, and conflict continued to rage in Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Syria. The COVID-19 outbreak will bring both political and economic changes to the region, which in turn have the potential to further worsen the already precarious security environment across the region.

Poor economic conditions have consistently been one of the most important primary drivers for unrest in the MENA region and the most immediate impact of COVID-19 will likely be on the economy. Tourism and the oil trade are integral parts of economies across the region. Tourism alone is worth between 6-8% of the GDP in the majority of the countries in the region (including in rich oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia) however in Egypt tourism contributes as much as 20% of the GDP. While the wealth received through oil revenues in the Gulf is well known, the oil trade also contributes significantly to non-oil producing countries in the region through expatriate remittance, particularly with the large Lebanese and Egyptian workforce in the Gulf.

A global fall in oil prices was indirectly caused by COVID-19 after a drop in demand from China led to Saudi Arabia cutting export prices in March. The fall in oil prices will cause a contraction in economies across the oil trade-dependent Gulf (Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and UAE) with the IMF predicting a loss of more than $230 billion in lost annual revenue. Likewise, the paralysis in the tourism industry as a result of border closures and travel restrictions will have just as dramatic an impact on economies of the region; in Tunisia alone, a loss of $1.4 billion is expected and up to 400,000 workers in the sector are predicted to lose their jobs.

The IMF predicts that as a whole, economies across the region will contract roughly 3.3%. While the Gulf economies are predicted to bounce back in 2021, outside of this sub-region the pain will be longer-lasting. Outside of the Gulf, governments do not have the funds to invest in fiscal stimuli packages and thus will be forced to turn to international aid packages increasing foreign debt or tap into already depleted foreign reserves. A substantial period of austerity is to be expected with public services facing huge cuts.

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

The deterioration in socio-economic conditions - the UN expects that roughly 8.3 million people will fall into poverty across the region by the end of the year - is likely to lead to significant periods of unrest in the second half of 2020. While large-scale protest movements in Algeria, Iraq and Lebanon that began in 2019 and carried over into the first quarter of 2020 have temporarily ended due to state-led curfew restrictions and fears of virus transmission, the drivers behind these movements will be exacerbated by the impending economic downturn.

Towards the end of 2020, when it is likely that restrictions on movement will be lifted, these protest movements are likely to be renewed with increased vigour and will likely continue into 2021 if key demands are not met.

Another potential driver for unrest is the increasingly authoritarian nature of governments across the region. While increased governmental powers are likely to be seen as justified in the short-term, states have already begun to exploit increased powers for political purposes. Iran and Egypt have increased repression of the press, using emergency laws to shut down all journalists who report anything critical of the government. In Algeria, the authorities have continued to arrest leaders of the domestic protest. Israel and Iran have given their intelligence services the ability to track the mobile phones of those suspected of having the virus. The increased use of authoritarian measures during the crisis could lead to an unwillingness from governments to relax these powers after the crisis ends. The resulting increase in authoritarianism could lead to large-scale popular unrest, similar to that of the 2011 Arab Spring.

RELATED READING: Healix International Ensures Successful COVID-19 Repatriations

In Libya, despite renewed calls for a ceasefire by the United Nations (UN) over fears of the effects of a substantial outbreak of COVID-19 in the war-torn country, the conflict shows no sign of stopping. The increased focus of international leaders on the crisis means that less time is being devoted to mediating a ceasefire. Domestic and international actors in the conflict may also use the distraction of the international community to make increasingly ambitious strategic decisions. Likewise, in Yemen the conflict is unlikely to be unaffected by the outbreak. The Iran-backed Houthi rebels have ignored a unilateral truce announced by the Saudi-led military coalition on 7th April and conflict on the ground has continued.

Exacerbated tensions as a result of the coronavirus outbreak will feed and further entrench the proxy conflict waged by Iranian-backed Shia militias across the MENA region. Iran has repeatedly claimed that US sanctions constitute economic terrorism due to its impediment of medical aid during the COVID crisis. The tactic of channelling domestic blame towards the US, whether justified or not, will further entrench anti-US sentiment across the region and potentially mobilise further support for its proxy militias present in Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq.

The scale of 2020’s COVID-19 outbreak means that no country will escape its consequences, however, in the already unstable MENA region, the effects will be amplified. Economies will suffer, wars will continue and large-scale unrest will resume.

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.

To learn more about Healix International please visit: www.healix.com

 

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Insight Into The Myriad Of Risks Challenging Personnel Security In 2019

Healix International, the global travel risk management and international medical and security assistance provider, has published a report outlining the potential security risks in 2019 facing businesses that have employees working and travelling abroad. James Pothecary, Regional Security Coordinator, believes the report underlines the need for organisations sending workers abroad to employ a wide-ranging scope when it comes to risk assessment and mitigation.

“The range of risks now present for those working abroad is probably at its broadest for decades. Not only are there the usual risks of terrorism, but the insidious threat of cyber-crime can undermine employee security, even in countries otherwise thought to be ‘safe’.

“And, of course, there really isn’t any country that is ‘safe’ any more – indeed extremist groups appear to target the countries that were previously thought to be ‘safe’ to give added weight to the message they intend to send.”

The Healix International Risk Oracle Report for 2019 provides valuable insight for all of those involved in employee security and risk management.  Key risks identified include:

Cyber-attacks

If global incidents such as the 2017 ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attack propelled the threat into public consciousness, then 2018 was the year that this shadow industry matured into a full-scale criminal economy.

Conservatively estimated to be worth over 1.5 trillion US dollars, cyber-crime goes beyond simple criminality for financial gain. The cyber sphere is being increasingly exploited as a disruptive tool by nation states, forcing countries to respond by developing their own cyber-security forces. Yet, both corporate and national cyber-security units have found themselves forced on the defensive against shadowy networks driven by ideology, greed and technical curiosity. In the cyber-conflicts of 2018, it was the disrupters who triumphed.

Far-right extremism

In 2019, the increased normalisation of far-right political discourse across the globe will continue to drive radicalisation. Far-right groups are increasingly organised, and will be further bolstered by the absorption of new recruits. Intelligence agencies, which have for the past several decades been overwhelmingly concerned with Islamist political violence, will struggle to detect and neutralise these groups, particularly as far-right communities proliferate on the internet.

Terrorism is ubiquitous in modern society

Whilst in real terms political violence is actually – for the third year in a row – declining, terrorism is a critical threat facing modern society. During 2018 the Healix Counter-Terrorism Desk predicted that the rapidly developing field of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) was an increasingly attractive asset for terrorist threat actors. Not only does the use of UAVs dramatically reduce the risk to the terrorist operative, but ‘the threat posed by nascent unmanned vehicle technologies is accentuated by outdated security perimeter arrangements’. Simply put, security managers have not evolved to consider air-denial outside of the most extreme-risk conflict zones.

To download a copy of the Healix International Risk Oracle Report for 2019 click here.

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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.

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