By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: I've heard there is an international medical group of doctors who can assist sick travellers. Can you please help me with their name and also if you can let me know what they provide.

A: In the early sixties a young Italian doctor who studied at Montreal's McGill University went home to his native Rome where he quickly was sought after by leading politicians, academics and movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor and George C. Scott. It seemed whenever Canadian and American travellers became ill they contacted the respective embassies and in turn the ambassadors requested the sharp skills of the accomplished physician. It was during one of these house calls in which the organization you are enquiring about began.

While treating a young ailing music student from Canada, Dr. Vincenzo Marcolongo, not only helped save her life but it was at this point in his career where his life changed. Dr. Marcolongo created the International Association For Medical Assistance To Travellers (IAMAT), a worldwide network of physicians assisting travellers. "He was convinced that with the arrival of the jet many travellers would have such frightening experiences, made worse by the language barriers -- and there was nobody to take care of them," explained Mrs. Marcolongo at a seminar recently and added, "So, there being nobody else, he elected himself to the job.

He left the good life and the society patients and movie stars and he started to contact North- American trained physicians all over the world to co-ordinate them into what became the IAMAT physicians network." Mrs. Marcolongo, who now heads up the non-profit organization after her husband's death said that it was often a slow and difficult process due mainly "because many people in the early sixties did not see the need for such a network, and also Dr. Marcolongo had to do it on his own time and with his own funds."

Today, IAMAT includes licensed English-speaking physicians in approximately 500 cities in 120 countries. According to the organization, clinics are continuously inspected for excellent medical care. The non-profit association has free membership however donations are accepted.

Members receive a pocket-sized directory of physicians, an IAMAT membership card, Traveller Clinical Record form and IAMAT charts such as on world immunization, malaria and schistosomiasis among others. For more information, IAMAT can be contacted online at or or call 519 836 0102


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All text & photos 2004.