UNH-In-Italy Safety and Responsibility Guidelines
No set of guidelines can guarantee the health and safety needs of each individual involved in a study abroad program, but the following address issues of general concern and the responsibilities of all parties. It is not possible to account for all the inevitable variations in actual cases, so those involved must also rely upon their experience and thoughtful judgment while considering the unique circumstances of each situation.
Responsibilities of the UNH-in-Italy Program
1. Conduct regular assessments of health and safety conditions for UNH-in-Italy, including program-sponsored accommodation, events, excursions and other activities, prior to program. Monitor possible changes in country conditions. Provide information about changes and advise participants and their parents/guardians/families as needed. Develop and maintain emergency preparedness and crisis response plans.
2. Provide guidelines for program directors and staff with respect to managing emergencies abroad.
3. Provide orientation materials to participants prior to departure for the program and onsite, which include appropriate information on health, legal, environmental, political, cultural, and religious conditions in the host country. In addition to dealing with health and safety issues, the orientation should address potential health and safety risks, and appropriate emergency response measures. Ask students to share this information with their parents/guardians/families so that they can make informed decisions concerning preparation, participation, and behavior while on the program.
4. Consider health and safety issues in evaluating the appropriateness of an individual’s participation in the UNH-in-Italy Program.
5. In the participant screening process, consider factors such as disciplinary history that may impact on the safety of the individual or the group.
6. Provide students with information on the role of and assistance provided by the on-site resident director or program coordinator.
7. Discuss with students, following their selection but prior to their participation in the UNH-in-Italy Program, individual health and disciplinary history issues that may impact on the safety of the individual or the group.
8. Verify that students have adequate health insurance coverage, or assure that participants receive information about how to obtain coverage. Adequate health insurance coverage is necessary to obtain a student visa. Policies should include emergency evacuation and repatriation. Students will be required by Italian law to purchase additional hospital insurance within Italy.
9. Direct on-site program staff to provide information for participants and their parents/guardians/families regarding available medical and support services, and to help participants obtain the services they may need.
10. Hire vendors and contractors (e.g. travel and tour agents) that have provided reputable services in the country in which the program takes place. Advise such vendors and contractors of the program sponsor’s expectations with respect to their role in the health and safety of participants.
11. Communicate applicable codes of conduct and the consequences of noncompliance to participants. Take appropriate action when participants are in violation.
12. In cases of serious health problems, injury, or other significant health and safety circumstances, maintain good communication among all program sponsors
13. Provide these guidelines to participants and their parents/guardians/families regarding when and where the responsibility of UNH-in-Italy ends, and the aspects of participants’ overseas experiences that are beyond the control of UNH-in-Italy. In particular, the UNH-in-Italy Program generally:
a) Cannot guarantee or ensure the safety of participants or eliminate all risks from the study abroad environment;
b) Cannot monitor or control all of the daily personal decisions, choices, and activities of individual participants;
c) Cannot prevent participants from engaging in illegal, dangerous or unwise activities;
d) Cannot ensure that U.S. standards of due process apply in overseas legal proceedings or provide or pay for legal representation for participants;
e) Cannot ensure that home-country cultural values and norms will apply in the host country;
f) Cannot fully replicate home campus support services at the overseas location;
g) Cannot assume responsibility for the actions of persons not employed or otherwise engaged by the UNH-in-Italy Program, for events that are not part of the program, or that are beyond the control of UNH-in-Italy and its subcontractors, or for situations that may arise due to the failure of a participant to disclose pertinent information.
Responsibilities of Participants
Students can have a major impact on their own health and safety abroad through the decisions they make before and during the program and by their day-to-day choices and behaviors.
1. Participate fully in all orientations before departure and onsite, and read and carefully consider all information provided by UNH-in-Italy that relates to safety and health conditions in host countries.
2. When applying for or accepting a place in a program, consider carefully their health and other personal circumstances, and assume responsibility for them after acceptance.
3. Make available to UNH-in-Italy accurate and complete physical and mental health information and any other personal data which are necessary in planning for a safe and healthy study abroad experience.
4. Obtain and maintain supplementary health insurance coverage and liability insurance, if necessary, and abide by any conditions imposed by the carriers.
5. Inform parents/guardians/families, and any others who may need to know, about their participation in the study abroad program, provide them with emergency contact information, and keep them informed on an ongoing basis.
6. Understand and comply with the terms of participation, codes of academic and ethical conduct, and emergency procedures of the program, and obey host country laws.
7. Once onsite, be aware of local conditions and customs that may present health or safety risks when making daily choices and decisions. Promptly express any health or safety concerns to the program staff or other appropriate individuals.
8. Become familiar with the procedures for obtaining health and law enforcement services in the host country.
9. Avoid substance abuse of all kinds.
10. Follow the program policies for keeping program staff informed of their whereabouts and well-being, especially when traveling away from the program site.
11. Behave in a manner that is respectful of the rights and well-being of others, and encourage others to behave in a similar manner.
12. Accept responsibility for their own decisions and actions.
Recommendations to Parents/Guardians/Families
Parents, guardians and families can play an important role in the health and safety of participants by helping them make decisions and by influencing their behavior overseas.
When appropriate, parents/guardians/families should:
1. Through their student participants, obtain and carefully evaluate health and safety information related to the program, as provided by UNH-in-Italy and other sources.
2. Be involved in the decision of the participant to enroll in a particular program.
3. Engage the participant in a thorough discussion of safety and behavior issues, insurance needs, and emergency procedures related to living abroad.
4. Be responsive to requests from UNH-in-Italy for information regarding the participant.
5. Keep in touch with the participant.
6. Be aware that some information may most appropriately be provided by the participant rather than the program.
These guidelines are based on those recommended by the Interorganizational Task Force on Safety and Responsibility in Study Abroad (May 2002).
AIDS AND Study Abroad
AIDS, the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, is a viral disease which breaks down the body’s immune system and leads to infections and cancers that may be fatal. AIDS is a chronic illness and there are no known vaccines to prevent it.
Transmission of AIDS
The World Health Organization states that “AIDS is not spread by daily and routine activities such as sitting next to someone, shaking hands, or working with people. Nor is it spread by insects or insect bites. And AIDS is not spread by swimming pools, food, cups, public transportation, plates, toilets, water, air, touching, hugging, coughing or sneezing.”
Transmission occurs through:
• intimate sexual contact—the virus can be transmitted from any infected person to his or her sexual partner, when semen, blood or vaginal fluids are exchanged.
• infected blood and blood products. This includes blood transfusions in which the blood donated either is not screened or is improperly screened for HIV antibodies.
• contaminated needles or any other HIV contaminated skin piercing instruments. This applies to acupuncture, illicit drugs, steroid injections, medical and dental procedures, ear & body piercing, and tattooing.
• an infected mother to her infant before or during delivery, or possibly while breastfeeding.
You and AIDS Overseas
Sexual Activity If you are sexually active, USE A CONDOM. Take a supply with you. It may take time to develop the language skills and confidence necessary to purchase condoms in a new culture. Condoms can reduce the risk of acquiring AIDS, but they do not eliminate that risk.
The risk of getting AIDS depends on you. Here are some general precautions against AIDS you can follow anywhere in the world:
• Avoid the exchange of semen, blood, or vaginal fluids with anyone. Either abstain from sexual activity or practice safer sex.
• USE A CONDOM. Men and women should both carry their own condoms.
• Use water-based lubricants/jellies containing a spermicide, in addition to a condom, during vaginal or anal intercourse.
• Do not use illicit injectable drugs. Do not use needles and syringes that may have been used previously.
CDC Sexually Transmitted Disease, HIV & AIDS Helpline
1-800-342-AIDS or 1-800-227-8922
University of New Hampshire Health Services