Businesses sending their staff to overseas assignments need to consider helping employees identify cardiovascular disease and cancers. They can do this through early detection with screening and health checks.
According to a press release from Towergate Health and Protection, the dominant risk factors for death are related to dietary and activity lifestyle. Our World in Data says that global risk factors for death are high blood pressure, followed by smoking and high blood sugar. Dietary issues, like high sodium, low intake of whole grains, fruits, nuts and seeds, and vegetables, dominate the next risk factors, along with alcohol use and low physical activity.
What Are The Risk Factors By Country?
Depending on which country an employee will be in will determine the approach an employer should take. For example, in Japan the biggest risk factor is smoking, in Qatar it’s obesity and in American Samoa, the biggest risk is high blood sugar.
Many risk factors are lifestyle-based. This means that employer health and wellbeing offerings require a holistic approach and employers have to consider benefits to cover all lifestyle areas.
The high-risk factors are also predominantly hidden killers. The majority of people will be completely unaware that their blood pressure, blood sugar, or sodium content is high. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 46% of adults with hypertension (high blood pressure) across the world are unaware that they have the condition.
“Dietary, activity, and lifestyle factors have a huge influence on health,” says Sarah Dennis, head of international at Towergate Health & Protection. “These differ by country, so employers must consider customising the options to meet with the requirements in each country or region.”
What Benefits Should Employers Offer?
In countries such as the US, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago and New Zealand, employers could consider bringing in checks to blood-sugar levels. When it comes to alcohol, Estonia, Luxembourg and Ireland rank highest in terms of consumption—in these countries it’s important that employers introduce an education or awareness programme on responsible drinking.
Brazil is one of the least active countries, so employers could offer apps that improve fitness such as exercise programmes or monitoring activities. These apps also have the advantage of being easily available worldwide and are a great way to connect people on a global basis.
Any concerns to mitigate any chances of issues escalating should be tackled by employers. This could include providing access to virtual GPs in order to get a quick diagnosis and fast access to treatment.
It’s important to quickly address concerns to mitigate the chances of issues escalating. Providing access to virtual GPs can be an excellent starting point in getting a diagnosis and fast access to treatment
Dennis says: “While we probably all know we should eat more healthily and exercise more regularly, actually making the changes can be difficult, especially for those living and working away from home. Screening and health checks can have many positive impacts. They enable the early detection of conditions before they become more serious; they offer hard facts and a real incentive for people to make changes to their lives; they also demonstrate how much a company cares, and that can significantly increase engagement.”