International Association for Medical Assistance To Travellers (IAMAT)
Being sick is never fun; but being sick in a strange place and with a strange doctor, while at the very least an unpleasant experience, can also be dangerous. International Association for Medical Assistance To Travellers (IAMAT) was founded to mitigate this situation.
IAMAT was founded in 1960 by the late Dr. Vincenzo Marcolongo, who trained at McGill University. He realized the need for a medical organization to assist travellers while working in Rome in 1960, when a gravely ill traveller was referred to him by the Canadian Embassy. The patient had been see by a local non-English speaking doctor and been treated with an aspirin‑like drug, at that time commonly dispensed in Europe as a pain killer.
Fortunately, having interned in Canada and speaking English, Dr. Marcolongo realized the cause of the illness. For reasons unknown to the medical profession, while harmless to those of Latin descent, such medications may destroy white blood cells of those of Anglo‑Saxon descent.
An intensive treatment program stabilized the woman’s condition and she fully recovered, but the case sensitized Marcolongo to the need for Medical Assistance for travellers.
Had Dr. Marcolongo not trained in Canada, his prescription may have been identical to that of the physician who treated the patient originally. In an era of ever increasing international travel, he felt there must be thousands of travellers facing the panic that this woman had endured.
To this end, he contacted hundreds of English‑speaking doctors, of all nationalities, with western training and co-ordinated their services into IAMAT. Marcolongo, who became a noted physician in Toronto, died in 1988 and his widow, Assunta Uffer-Marcolongo, now continues her husband’s mission.
From the outset IAMAT’s goal has been to co‑ordinate medical services for travellers around the world and to prepare travellers for their journey. Dr. Marcolongo felt that this information for travellers should be made available at no cost to travellers. Continuing in this spirit of generosity and the dedication of its Founder, membership in the non-profit IAMAT is free; although donations (tax receipts are issued) are appreciated and are used to continue researching the medical aspects of travel.
With membership you receive IAMAT’s passport sized ‘blue book’ directory which lists IAMAT approved doctors, including both specialist and GPs, in 500 cities in over 120 countries. In order to be listed physicians must be fully licensed in their own country, have received postgraduate training in a western country, primarily North America or Europe, be fluent in English, or have the highest recommendation of their peers.
They must also accept IAMAT’s fee schedule of $55 (US$) for office visits, $75 for house or hotel calls, and $95 for night calls (9pm-9am), Sunday and local holiday visits. An IAMAT membership card is required to obtain these rates. IAMAT physicians will make referrals, provide a medical report if required, and report to your personal physician.
The ‘blue book’ directory also lists foreign IAMAT centres and inspected medical centres, hospitals and clinics. Laboratory and surgical procedures, medication, hospitalization, consulting physicians’ fees, or other expenses are not covered. As always, you are strongly advised to buy out-of-country medical insurance for any travel outside Canada. Also, membership privileges do not apply when travelling in your own country, as your local medical association can provide assistance.
When travelling in North America ask your doctor if he\she knows a Home Parenteral Enteral Nutrition (HPEN) physician at your designation. Another source is the National (USA) Board of Nutrition Support Certifications at or call them through ASPEN at 800-727-4567 or 301-587-6315.
With your membership, in addition to the ‘blue book’ directory, you will receive a membership card (required for preferred fees), a world immunization chart, world risk charts and information guides for malaria, etc. and a traveller’s clinical record which you and your doctor complete before your departure. Donors also receive a world climate chart reporting climates, seasonal clothing requirements, and sanitary conditions of water, milk, and food.