World Health Organization seeks funding for studies on air travel ailments

World Health Organization seeks funding for studies on air travel ailments

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today that it was seeking 12 million euros to fund studies on ailments linked with air travel.

In a statement issued today in Geneva, the UN agency said the studies will seek to document whether certain people may suffer health problems as a result of sitting on airplanes for long periods of time with limited movement. Specifically, the research will investigate the links between air travel and "venous thrombosis" - a condition of blood clots in a vein, most often in the lower leg and thigh.

"Lately, increased reports of cases of venous thrombosis following flights point to the importance of conducting our research without delay," said Dr. Derek Yach, WHO's Executive Director of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health. "We hope to quickly secure funding so the studies can begin shortly."

The research will attempt to determine the frequency of venous thrombosis, the magnitude of its association with air travel and the possible causal mechanisms involved. If a significant association is discerned, the studies will also provide clues on prevention strategies for air travellers, WHO said.

Pending the outcome of its research, the agency has recommended "common sense measures" for the comfort of airline passengers. The steps, which so far have little scientific basis, include reducing alcohol intake, drinking adequate fluids, wearing loose clothing and performing leg exercises while seated.