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Oman Insurance Company Completes 100% Acquisition Of Dubai Starr Sigorta

Oman Insurance Company has completed 100% acquisition of its subsidiary, Dubai Starr Sigorta obtaining additional 49% of issued and outstanding share capital.

In 2012, Oman Insurance Company bought 51% stake in Dubai Starr Sigorta which was an auto agency based in Istanbul, Turkey with operations in Ankara, Izmir and Bursa.

The company, under the new management set about building a strategy focused on Corporate Commercial Lines Business to serve the interests of the growing construction, property and casualty market in Turkey. Dubai Starr Sigorta focused on building strong underwriting and service capabilities with the support of Oman Insurance Company’s extensive product and brand depth.

With an expert management team having both local and international experience, it has become a well-known, preferred insurance solution provider for the local market especially in Construction and Liability sectors.

Dubai Starr Sigorta remains a successful niche commercial insurer with steady year-on-year growth in premium and underwriting profits. This move further strengthens Oman Insurance Company’s geographical diversification along with its strong presence in the UAE and Oman.

The acquisition further bridges an opportunity to reach and explore European markets. Oman Insurance Company’s senior management has expressed full confidence in Dubai Starr Sigorta’s future growth and the dedication of its staff and management to realize strategic goals.

Oman Insurance Company (P.S.C.) was established in 1975 and is one of the leading insurance providers in the Middle East. Oman Insurance Company has operations across Emirates in the UAE Oman and a subsidiary in Turkey. Oman Insurance provides a wide range of insurance solutions for individuals and enterprises in Life, Medical and General insurance


Recovery Delayed As International Travel Remains Locked Down

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released an updated global passenger forecast showing that the recovery in traffic has been slower than had been expected.

In the base case scenario:

  • Global passenger traffic (revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) will not return to pre-COVID-19 levels until 2024, a year later than previously projected.
  • The recovery in short haul travel is still expected to happen faster than for long haul travel. As a result, passenger numbers will recover faster than traffic measured in RPKs. Recovery to pre-COVID-19 levels, however, will also slide by a year from 2022 to 2023. For 2020, global passenger numbers (enplanements) are expected to decline by 55% compared to 2019, worsened from the April forecast of 46%.

June 2020 passenger traffic foreshadowed the slower-than-expected recovery. Traffic, measures in RPK, fell 86.5% compared to the year-ago period. That is only slightly improved from a 91.0% contraction in May. This was driven by rising demand in domestic markets, particularly China. The June load factor set an all-time low for the month at 57.6%.

The more pessimistic recovery outlook is based on a number of recent trends:

  • Slow virus containment in the US and developing economies: Although developed economies outside of the US have been largely successful in containing the spread of the virus, renewed outbreaks have occurred in these economies, and in China. Furthermore there is little sign of virus containment in many important emerging economies, which in combination with the US, represent around 40% of global air travel markets. Their continued closure, particularly to international travel, is a significant drag on recovery.
  • Reduced corporate travel: Corporate travel budgets are expected to be very constrained as companies continue to be under financial pressure even as the economy improves. In addition, while historically GDP growth and air travel have been highly correlated, surveys suggest this link has weakened, particularly with regard to business travel, as video conferencing appears to have made significant inroads as a substitute for in-person meetings.
  • Weak consumer confidence: While pent-up demand exists for VFR (visiting friends and relatives) and leisure travel, consumer confidence is weak in the face of concerns over job security and rising unemployment, as well as risks of catching COVID-19. Some 55% of respondents to IATA’s June passenger survey don’t plan to travel in 2020.

Owing to these factors, IATA’s revised baseline forecast is for global enplanements to fall 55% in 2020 compared to 2019 (the April forecast was for a 46% decline). Passenger numbers are expected to rise 62% in 2021 off the depressed 2020 base, but still will be down almost 30% compared to 2019. A full recovery to 2019 levels is not expected until 2023, one year later than previously forecast.

Meanwhile, since domestic markets are opening ahead of international markets, and because passengers appear to prefer short haul travel in the current environment, RPKs will recover more slowly, with passenger traffic expected to return to 2019 levels in 2024, one year later than previously forecast. Scientific advances in fighting COVID-19 including development of a successful vaccine, could allow a faster recovery. However, at present there appears to be more downside risk than upside to the baseline forecast.

“Passenger traffic hit bottom in April, but the strength of the upturn has been very weak. What improvement we have seen has been domestic flying. International markets remain largely closed. Consumer confidence is depressed and not helped by the UK’s weekend decision to impose a blanket quarantine on all travelers returning from Spain. And in many parts of the world infections are still rising. All of this points to a longer recovery period and more pain for the industry and the global economy,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“For airlines, this is bad news that points to the need for governments to continue with relief measures—financial and otherwise. A full Northern Winter season waiver on the 80-20 use-it-or-lose it slot rule, for example, would provide critical relief to airlines in planning schedules amid unpredictable demand patterns. Airlines are planning their schedules. They need to keep sharply focused on meeting demand and not meeting slot rules that were never meant to accommodate the sharp fluctuations of a crisis. The earlier we know the slot rules the better, but we are still waiting for governments in key markets to confirm a waiver,” said de Juniac.

June 2020 Performance

Total Market
Asia Pacific
Latin America
Middle East
North America

1) % of industry RPKs in 2019     2) Year-on-year change in load factor     3) Load Factor Level

International Passenger Markets

June international traffic shrank by 96.8% compared to June 2019, only slightly improved over a 98.3% decline in May, year-over-year. Capacity fell 93.2% and load factor contracted 44.7 percentage points to 38.9%.

Asia-Pacific airlines’ June traffic plummeted 97.1% compared to the year-ago period, little improved from the 98.1% decline in May. Capacity fell 93.4% and load factor shrank 45.8 percentage points to 35.6%.

European carriers saw demand topple 96.7% in June versus a year ago, compared to a 98.7% decline in May. Capacity dropped 94.4% and load factor lessened 35.7 percentage points to 52.0%.

Middle Eastern airlines traffic collapsed 96.1% for June against June 2019, compared with a 97.7% demand drop in May. Capacity contracted 91.1%, and load factor crumbled to 33.3%, down 43.1% compared to a year ago. 

North American carriers had a 97.2% traffic decline in June, barely improved from a 98.3% decline in May. Capacity fell 92.8%, and load factor dropped 53.8 percentage points to 34.1%.

Latin American airlines suffered a 96.6% demand drop in June compared to the same month last year, from a 98.1% drop in May. Capacity fell 95.7% and load factor sagged 17.7 percentage points to 66.2%, which was the highest among the regions.

African airlines’ traffic sank 98.1% in June, little changed from a 98.6% demand drop in May. Capacity contracted 84.5%, and load factor dived 62.1 percentage points to just 8.9% of seats filled, lowest among regions.

Domestic Passenger Markets

Domestic traffic demand fell 67.6% in June, improved from a 78.4% decline in May. Capacity fell 55.9% and load factor dropped 22.8 percentage points to 62.9%.

China P.R.
Russian Fed.

1) % of industry RPKs in 2019     2) Year-on-year change in load factor     3) Load Factor Level

China’s carriers continued to lead the recovery, with traffic down 35.5% in June compared to the year-ago period, raised from a 46.3% decline in May.

Japan’s airlines saw improved domestic demand after the state of COVID-19 emergency was lifted in late May. Domestic RPKs fell by 74.9% year-on-year in June, compared with around 90% annual declines in the previous two months.

The Bottom Line

Domestic traffic improvements notwithstanding, international traffic, which in normal times accounts for close to two-thirds of global air travel, remains virtually non-existent. Most countries are still closed to international arrivals or have imposed quarantines, that have the same effect as an outright lockdown. Summer — our industry’s busiest season — is passing by rapidly; with little chance for an upswing in international air travel unless governments move quickly and decisively to find alternatives to border closures, confidence-destroying stop-start re-openings and demand-killing quarantine,” said de Juniac.

IATA urges governments to implement a layer of measures including the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO’s) global guidelines for restoring air connectivity contained in ICAO’s Takeoff: Guidance for Air Travel through the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis. IATA also sees potential for accurate, fast, scalable and affordable testing measures and comprehensive contact tracing to play a role in managing the risk of virus spread while re-connecting economies and re-starting travel and tourism. “We need to learn to manage the risks of living with COVID-19 with targeted and predictable measures that will safely re-build traveler confidence and shattered economies,” said de Juniac.


Pacific Prime China Wins 2 Cigna & CMB Awards

Pacific Prime has received two awards from Cigna & CMB, including the “Year 2019 Best Contributor Award” and “10 Year Anniversary Long-Term Cooperation Award”.

The Cigna & CMB Health Insurance & Benefit 10-Year Annual Appreciation Cocktail Reception took place on December 6th, 2019 at the Jing An Shangri-la Hotel.“Pacific Prime certainly looks forward to the next 10 years of working closely with Cigna & CMB to continue to develop this market sector together for multi-national and Chinese organizations”

When asked why Pacific Prime received the awards, Kevin Zhou, President of the Health Business Division at Cigna & CMB, stated, “Pacific Prime made extraordinary contributions to Cigna & CMB in 2019. Equipped with in-depth professional health insurance knowledge, Pacific Prime provided the best services to our shared clients across multiple industries.”

“Pacific Prime China is honored to have received two awards recognizing our contribution to Cigna & CMB high-end medical insurance in China. We have grown a formidable relationship with Cigna & CMB over the last 10 years in China, becoming one of the leading intermediaries placing clients with medical and disability insurance products,” said Jason Armer, Country Manager of Pacific Prime China.

“Pacific Prime certainly looks forward to the next 10 years of working closely with Cigna & CMB to continue to develop this market sector together for multi-national and Chinese organizations,” added Jason Armer.

As a global health insurance intermediary, Pacific Prime has provided health insurance coverage to more than 500,000 people in over 130 countries. In addition to health insurance, the firm specializes in employee benefit plans for international corporations, with more than 4,000 corporate clients across the globe.

Cigna & CMB Life Insurance provides insurance broker and agent services for a wide range of insurance types such as medical, life, and home. Founded in 2003, Cigna & CMB’s business has covered Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Sichuan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and many other regions, working with private and public medical institutions and international medical centers.


AXA – Global Healthcare Appoints Gordon Delaney As Regional Head Of Europe

AXA – Global Healthcare, has announced the appointment of Gordon Delaney as Regional Head of Europe, effective immediately.

With 15 years’ experience in the financial services market, Delaney will oversee AXA – Global Healthcare’s newest distribution hub, based in Dublin. He will be responsible for driving distribution throughout Europe, retaining and growing business in the region, as well as continuing to develop relationships with key partners.

Having spent a large part of his career with Allianz Care, most recently as Head of Sales and Distribution for Northern, Central and Eastern Europe, Delaney brings excellent knowledge and vast experience of working in international insurance markets to the role.

Commenting on his new role, Delaney said: “I joined AXA – Global Healthcare because of its unique position in what’s an increasingly complex market. With the weight of the AXA brand and the businesses’ global capabilities I feel the potential to collaborate and grow the business is massive. To do this it’s vital we put our customers first and the new European hub allows us to do so while providing a fantastic platform to develop the business further.”

The dedicated European hub, which opened in March 2019, is already supporting AXA’s customers and new business opportunities in the region. Despite changing regulations and uncertainty around the UK’s position in the EU, by working with AXA Insurance dac, another insurer from within the AXA Group, it means AXA – Global Healthcare is well prepared to take advantage of whatever the future holds. Delaney has extensive experience of the local regulatory market as well as other markets across the region in which AXA operates.

Kevin Melton, Global Head Sales and Marketing AXA – Global Healthcare, commented: “Considering his extensive experience we’re looking forward to realising the value that Gordon will bring to our global team. Together with our distribution hubs in the UK and Hong Kong, and AXA’s capabilities in the Middle East, our new European hub demonstrates our continued commitment to the global healthcare market and our ability to meet the regional needs of clients, on a global scale.”


International Medical Group Unifies Family Of Companies Under 1 Brand

International Medical Group® (IMG®) has announced that their global family of brands, including ALC Health, iTravelInsured, AkesoCare, and Global Response, will all be unified under the IMG brand.

“Integrating all of our travel and medical insurance business lines with all of our assistance business lines means IMG is uniquely positioned to deliver quality and simplicity to members, clients, and producers around the world,” said Steve Paraboschi, Executive Vice President.

This move allows IMG to leverage its global platforms, simplify processes, and scale systems into a singular, member-focused experience. Working with IMG and accessing its complete set of products and services will now be easier than ever for customers and partners.

"Selling insurance and services under one brand more precisely represents the mission and capabilities of IMG,” said Paraboschi. “As a singular cross-border resource, unifying our brand makes it easier for us to provide members and clients with the products and services they need.”

The IMG brand strategy, which will be implemented throughout 2019 and 2020, will see the iTravelInsured and ALC Health product sets rolled into IMG branded product lines. IMG insurance products will now include a full suite of international private medical insurance, travel medical insurance, and travel insurance plans to protect members across borders.

The strategy will also include unifying Global Response and AkesoCare under the IMG brand. IMG has long offered a variety of travel assistance services including 24/7 emergency medical assistance, claims management, medical management, and clinical services, and this consolidation further elevates IMG’s service offerings in the marketplace.

"Ultimately,” Paraboschi said, “this decision represents the culmination of many years of strategic integration and growth of both our insurance products and assistance services, and we’re very excited for the future as one company, and one brand.”


Sedgwick Appoints Wayne Cheng Chief Operations Officer For Asia

Sedgwick has named Wayne Cheng its chief operations officer for Asia. In his new role, Cheng will be responsible for executing the company's business and growth strategy and driving operational efficiency as Sedgwick scales its business across the region.

Having worked in the insurance industry for more than 20 years, Cheng has built up a wealth of experience in this sector. His specialties include data analysis, insurance claims, finance marketing, operations, project management, reinsurance and talent management. He joined Sedgwick in 2014 as general manager of Sedgwick's Asia operations. He previously held a variety of senior roles, including vice president, chief claims officer and global claims finance analyst of a leading insurance company. Cheng is also a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) and Associate in Claims (AIC).

"Wayne has a deep and thorough understanding of our industry, and his experience across general insurance and the Asia markets will continue to be a great asset to Sedgwick," said James Ong, Sedgwick CEO for Asia. "Wayne's main objectives as COO are to position Sedgwick for continued growth in Asia and enable our company to operate at its full capacity and capabilities. This is an exciting time for our team as Sedgwick in Asia grows from strength to strength. In this new leadership role, Wayne will help us ensure that Sedgwick remains at the forefront of the industry across the region and around the world."

As Sedgwick looks to the next phase of its business development in Asia, the company's focus on capabilities, clients and solutions will be supported by market-leading, cutting-edge technology, expertise and exceptional service.

"Sedgwick is not only the world's largest claims and risk solutions provider, but also a company that values innovation, quality and best-in-class service," Cheng said. "I'm looking forward to assisting James and working with the rest of the team in growing our business in Asia—not only in terms of products, but also in breadth of solutions and capabilities."

Sedgwick is a leading global provider of technology-enabled risk, benefits and integrated business solutions. We provide a broad range of resources tailored to our clients' specific needs in casualty, property, marine, benefits and other lines. At Sedgwick, caring counts®; through the dedication and expertise of more than 21,000 colleagues across 65 countries, the company takes care of people and organisations by mitigating and reducing risks and losses, promoting health and productivity, protecting brand reputations, and containing costs that can impact the bottom line. Sedgwick's majority shareholder is The Carlyle Group; Stone Point Capital LLC, La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and other management investors are minority shareholders. For more, see



AIA Agrees Exclusive Asia-Pacific Regional Partnership With Medix

Breakthrough regional partnership between AIA and Medix, a company specialising in quality global medical management, to provide improved healthcare and clinical outcomes for AIA customers.

AIA Group Limited (“AIA” or the “Company”: stock code: 1299) has announced that its customers across the Asia-Pacific region are set to benefit from a landmark partnership agreement with global health management company Medix. AIA and Medix are partnering to deliver a differentiated proposition that optimises care and improves medical outcomes for AIA customers across the region. Under the expanded regional partnership, building on already successful collaborations between AIA and Medix in Hong Kong and Singapore, AIA and Medix will work together to launch in more markets in 2019, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia. Additional markets are planned for launch in 2020 and beyond.

Under the exclusive partnership with Medix, selected AIA customers will have access to “Personal Medical Case Management Services” during some of the most challenging times of their lives. When diagnosed with a serious or complex condition AIA customers will be supported by a dedicated case team throughout their medical journey, from diagnosis through treatment until full recovery. They will gain access to a holistic medical assessment, re-evaluation of their condition, referral for additional diagnostic testing – where needed, ongoing multi-disciplinary consultations, full care coordination, on-going guidance and emotional support provided by Medix’ team of renowned medical experts from around the globe.

Eligible AIA customers will have their medical case reviewed by Medix’ expert team of 300 in-house physicians and a global quality accredited network of over 3,000 world-leading and independent medical specialists, ensuring they have the tools to make educated, quality driven decisions and receive the best possible care throughout their medical journey, anywhere in the world.

Ng Keng Hooi, AIA’s Group Chief Executive and President, said the announcement underscores AIA’s commitment to meet the growing and changing needs of customers and to help people live Healthier, Longer, Better Lives.

“With the advances in medical treatments and technologies, the expectations of Asian consumers have changed significantly, with personalised, quality medical care at the top of their list. This strategic partnership with Medix exemplifies our leadership role in driving economic and social development across the region. It demonstrates our pledge to go beyond the traditional, passive insurance business model by becoming an integral part of our customers’ life journey” he said.

Mark Saunders, AIA’s Group Chief Strategy and Corporate Development Officer with responsibility for healthcare underlined AIA’s strategy and deliberate investment in helping improve the health and well-being of its customers, saying “AIA’s expanded partnership with Medix represents a significant step forward in delivering our long-term strategic vision in the health and well-being space, where we’ve invested significantly and consistently over the past several years. It builds on a highly successful partnership in Hong Kong and Singapore, where we’ve been able to provide Medix’ unparalleled medical case management services to our customers.

“To successfully deliver on our vision to help people be healthier for longer we are building an eco-system of services and partners to help people on all steps of the health journey through predict, prevent, diagnose, treat and recover stages, improving their overall wellbeing. Our exclusive partnership with Medix across our markets enhances AIA’s distinctive and differentiated proposition in health and well-being. By providing our policyholders with Personal Medical Case Management AIA helps overcome local healthcare disparities and makes international expertise, locally available through a mutually beneficial collaborative process” Saunders said.

Sigal Atzmon, CEO of Medix commended AIA’s visionary and innovative approach to driving meaningful improvements in people’s lives across the region.

“This is a partnership that will make a genuine difference; it represents a shared vision and a commitment to reduce unwarranted healthcare variations across the region, improve the medical accessibility, medical outcomes and most importantly, improve the overall care experience” Ms Atzmon said.

“Through this partnership, we provide personalised medical care, empower patients with the knowledge and tools they deserve to make educated decisions and offer active coverage in the daily lives of each policyholder. As such, we are enabling an unprecedented democratisation of the entire healthcare landscape.

“AIA, as one of the world’s largest and leading insurers should be applauded for the courageous, pioneering spirit they have shown over the last 100 years. Their vision and commitment to improving the lives of their customers/people across the region is unwavering and we are honoured to be a part of their next chapter,” Ms Atzmon concluded.

About AIA

AIA Group Limited and its subsidiaries (collectively “AIA” or the “Group”) comprise the largest independent publicly listed pan-Asian life insurance group. It has a presence in 18 markets in Asia-Pacific – wholly-owned branches and subsidiaries in Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, New Zealand, Macau, Brunei, Cambodia, a 97 per cent subsidiary in Sri Lanka, a 49 per cent joint venture in India and a representative office in Myanmar.

The business that is now AIA was first established in Shanghai a century ago in 1919. It is a market leader in the Asia-Pacific region (ex-Japan) based on life insurance premiums and holds leading positions across the majority of its markets. It had total assets of US$230 billion as of 31 December 2018.

AIA meets the long-term savings and protection needs of individuals by offering a range of products and services including life insurance, accident and health insurance and savings plans. The Group also provides employee benefits, credit life and pension services to corporate clients. Through an extensive network of agents, partners and employees across Asia-Pacific, AIA serves the holders of more than 33 million individual policies and over 16 million participating members of group insurance schemes.

AIA Group Limited is listed on the Main Board of The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited under the stock code “1299” with American Depositary Receipts (Level 1) traded on the over-the-counter market (ticker symbol: “AAGIY”).

About Medix Medical Services 

Established in 2006, the Medix Group is a global, leading provider of innovative, high quality health management solutions. With offices in London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Tel Aviv, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Melbourne and a client base exceeding 3 million members in over 90 countries, Medix offers its clients -- primarily global health & life insurers, financial groups, large corporates and government institutions -- significant value-added services in the world of healthcare. Medix’ medical team is comprised of 300 in-house doctors alongside nurses, research experts, medical administration teams and a quality accredited global network of over 3,000 specialists and 1,500 leading hospitals.

Through its various services, Medix offers its customers fast-track solutions to proven better medical outcomes. Medix provides Global Personal Case Management Services, Disease Prevention Management Services, Digital Health Solutions, Home Care Services, Health Strategy and Medical Governance Services to insurers, large corporates and government institutions.

Medix is a Shared Value company that strives to enable people around the world to have access to the best medical care possible while eliminating unwarranted healthcare variations and helping to control medical cost inflation. Believing that the accessibility, quality and sustainability of medical care are one of the most important components of social rights, Medix is very passionate about these issues and is globally fully dedicated to these activities.



Broadstone Group Enters IPMI Market With Acquisition Of Specialist IPMI and Employee Benefits Firm

Broadstone has announced the acquisition of 3HR Benefits Consultancy. This move represents Broadstone’s third acquisition in as many months following the recently announced purchases of Liverpool-based CS Financial Solutions and Thomson Dickson Consulting located in Glasgow.

Founded in 2008, London-based 3HR Benefits Consultancy is a subsidiary of 3HR plc and provides specialist employee benefits and international private medical insurance (IPMI) support and services to more than 200 Japanese, Korean and Chinese blue chip companies in respect of their UK and European expatriate employees. The company is the leading UK benefits consulting firm specialising in the Far Eastern market and dominates the sector with a number of Fortune 500 clients
Commenting on this latest acquisition, Broadstone Group CEO, Grant Stobart, said, “As part of our strategy to grow all areas of our business we must identify and then capitalise on emerging trends and opportunities. This is another outstanding acquisition for Broadstone and adds further scale in a buoyant   sector. 3HR Benefits Consultancy is one of the UK’s leading providers of specialist IPMI and employee benefits services to Far Eastern groups operating in the UK and Europe and the respect and authority they have built up in this sector is very impressive. Acquiring this niche business with its quality client base and experienced staff will provide clients with access to Broadstone’s wider service offering.
“2019 continues to be a year of targeted but vigorous expansion for Broadstone,” concluded Stobart.

Terence Bennett, CEO at 3HR plc, said, “Over the past few months we have been actively seeking ways of further developing our benefits consultancy and expatriate medical insurance business and have now found the ideal partner in Broadstone. This deal is an important step in the evolution of our business and will ensure that we can continue to further strengthen the service we offer our clients and the personal and professional development of all of our staff.”

Xavier Woodward, from Broadstone’s private equity parent, Livingbridge, commented, “This acquisition further strengthens Broadstone’s offering and provides access to a new client base. We are delighted to welcome 3HR Benefits Consulting on board as we continue to execute on a strong M&A pipeline.”


Healix International Identifies The Big Health Risks For Workers Travelling Across The Globe In 2019

Healix International, the global travel risk management and international medical and security assistance provider, has set out the big health challenges the company believes businesses sending employees abroad may face in 2019.

"Diseases that tend to be more associated with far-off regions remain top of the list of concerns – including Ebola, the Zika virus and Malaria. But employers also need to be mindful of the risks of some diseases that are just as common at home. For example, measles and mumps can present serious risks and both remain prevalent thanks to the fact that many parents shun the MMR vaccine. Employers therefore need to ensure that they're monitoring all health risks when posting staff abroad."

Ebola continues to be a high risk in Democratic Republic of Congo

As the number of cases of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo approaches 800, and fatalities almost 400, it is clear that this outbreak is far from over.

Now established as the second largest Ebola epidemic in history, further infections are to be expected far into 2019. A particular challenge in trying to bring these outbreaks under control is the resistance of local communities to accept the guidance of healthcare professionals.  The on-going militia activity in the region is also a major factor, halting vaccination and quarantine efforts, as well as causing the withdrawal of some healthcare experts many hundreds of miles away from Ebola-affected cities. If other epicentres of disease are established in neighbouring countries to DRC, as is feared, control of the epidemic will take much longer to establish.

Zika predictions for India and the Americas

Zika is likely to be widely reported in 2019, if not for new epidemics, then for the delayed consequences of past infection - only now receiving attention. Around 6% of babies infected in the womb will have profound neurological deformities resulting in microcephaly, the abnormally small head seen in many images of babies from Brazil during the 2016 epidemic. But what has only recently come to light, is that of those born with a normal appearance, a further 8% of babies can have developmental delay, movement problems, or even seizures.

It has also been predicted that in 2019 it is likely that further outbreaks will continue in India and its population of 1.3 billion.

Poorer tropical countries face potential increases in malaria cases

Although malaria cases are still counted in the hundreds of millions each year, deaths from this mosquito-borne disease have decreased by around 30% over the last decade. However, over the past year, epidemics of malaria have occurred in countries facing particular economic hardships including Venezuela and Angola. A reduction in mosquito prevention programmes, or simply a failure in basic hygienic measures such as refuse collection both lead to increase the environments permissive for mosquito propagation.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome a threat for workers

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), is the severe respiratory infection that first produced a handful of cases in 2012. Since then over 2,000 individuals have been infected, mostly in Saudi Arabia and often caught directly from its animal host, the camel, after which the disease is particularly severe.

There is, however, also a risk to acquire the illness from MERS-infected patients, albeit the symptoms are generally milder - but this is not true for those who also have a chronic medical condition.  Understanding employees' health before they are posted to this region is therefore important, particularly as a low level of new MERS infections persists in the Middle East, and will continue to do so into 2019.

Predictions for cholera in Africa

2018 saw many outbreaks of cholera. From Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Niger, to Cameroon, Somalia, and the much-beset DRC, thousands of cases occurred, particularly in countries that have a compromised sanitation infrastructure.  In 2019, further epidemics of cholera are sadly inevitable as countries continue to have unsafe water provision, compounded by times of particular hardship.

Poor take-up of MMR vaccine perpetuates measles and mumps

Both measles and mumps saw outbreaks in 2018 and this is very likely to continue in 2019. The uptake of the MMR vaccine is still poor in many regions, not least Europe which still suffers from misconceptions concerning vaccines. Despite the MMR vaccine being shown to be safe, over 14,000 cases of measles alone were confirmed in 2018. Employers should therefore monitor reports of outbreaks – particularly where pregnant employees are travelling abroad.

Pandemic planning essential for 2019

The possibility of a bird flu capable of infecting humans continues to concern health experts. In recent years the bird flu, H7N9, has produced a modest number of infections in China; most associated with bird farmers or those who have had direct contact with poultry. Transmissibility between humans is poor with H7N9, however, meaning that an epidemic (or its big brother, the pandemic - during which transmission to several countries occurs) is very unlikely to occur.

However, as over the last century pandemics of other viruses have regularly resulted, many think that a novel bird flu might be a candidate for the next large pandemic. Whether this will occur in 2019, or in a later year, the important issue is to ensure that an organisation has adequate pandemic planning – knowing what to do when an outbreak occurs, reducing the risk for businesses and their employees.

Read more Healix International news on their iPMI Magazine micro news web site, click here.



William Russell Ltd Appoints Over Twenty Years’ Of IPMI Experience

William Russell has appointed Michael Lewars as Head of International Business Development of our UK & International Sales division.

Over twenty years’ IPMI experience

With over twenty years’ experience in the international healthcare space, Lewars is passionate about delivering tailored, impacting solutions to clients and intermediaries, most recently as BUPA’s Head of Intermediary Sales.

Responsible for the strategic leadership of our UK and international sales departments Lewars will contribute to the overall growth strategy; helping William Russell expand on the success of the past quarter century, as a leading independent international insurer.

Striving for excellence

Lewars follows the Kaizen principle of continuous learning; that excellence is never truly achieved but that we should always be in pursuit of it.

He recognises that the international healthcare space is not fully optimised and will lead our sales team with a strategy that places excellence and innovation at the forefront of everything we do; this is symbiotic with our company mission statement to always be forward-thinking.

With a wealth of experience in both the domestic and international markets, Lewars will mentor and develop our teams across the globe to ensure our brokers and customers continue to enjoy demonstrable value for money with our products, and that we deliver innovative international health insurance solutions that are unique in the market.

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Medical, Healthcare, Expatriate And Travel Insurance

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