KLM Blog

Noud Schel, medical doctor of KLM Health Services, blogs regularly about travel and health issues

Noud Schel works as a medical doctor for KLM Health Services. His Noud Scheljob is very diverse and ranges from counseling travelers and expats on vaccinations and performing medical check-ups to informing flight crew on health issues abroad and the work-related risks of disease. At KLM Health Services, he’s responsible for the health of expats and airline crew in Africa and the Middle-East. You can read the blogs below.

Didi Aaftink, medical doctor

Didi AaftinkDidi Aaftink has been with KLM Health Services since 2006 till 2019 as an occupational health physician. She joined the international department in 2010 and was responsible for managing the international medical care and doctors network for crews, expats and local staff in the Asia region. Before coming to KLM Health Services, she worked as an occupational physician for a wide range of international companies. She lived and worked abroad for many years. Besides Occupational Health, she’s also specialised in aviation medicine, travel medicine and emergency medicine.

Winter is fast approaching; the days are becoming shorter and the nights longer. And with it, the flu season is making its comeback. It is often thought that an aircraft’s ventilation system makes you more prone to picking up the flu. However, this is not quite the case. On launching the flu jab this year, several questions regarding the flu reached me, as a doctor, at KLM Health Services. I give answer to these questions in my latest blog. You can read my blog here. 

Getting a tattoo when travelling – because it’s cheaper, you want to mark an important moment, or simply to have a souvenir of a fantastic trip – requires some thought. Diarrhoea, tropical diseases and sunburn are the health risks we generally associate with travelling, but getting tattoos and piercings abroad also carries risks. In my role as a doctor at KLM Health Services, I’m regularly asked about these risks. It’s important you bear the following points in mind. Read more.

KLM Health Services, VUmc and KLM are working closely on the Doctor 2 Doctor project. The project’s purpose is to share expertise between two teaching hospitals in the Netherlands and the Kenyan medical world. In recent years we have put a highly successful programme in place to reduce work-related complaints among hospital staff. In March 2018 we paid another visit to the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital at Eldoret, Kenya. Read here more about this project.

Hooray! Families will be heading off on holiday in the nearby future. Everyone prepares in their own way. I’m seeing more and more families with (young) children heading off to exotic destinations in Africa, South America and Asia. Places like Zanzibar, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Bali or one of the islands off the coast of Thailand. Magnificent beaches, cultural highlights, good food and plenty of sporting activities. These destinations are now tried and tested, and generally safely accessible with children. Read more

Soon the holiday season will again be upon us and the numbers of leisure travellers descending on our airports will peak. You know the feeling all too well: excitement; finally having the time to make a journey you’ve looked forward to; visiting relatives in far-off countries; a long-awaited hiking break; or even just some quality time to read a good book…. Whatever, it’s a well-earned opportunity to cross off something nice from your ‘to do’ list! Read more: blog meanwhile at KLM.

Pressure and pain in your ears during a flight can be extremely annoying, even painful. And almost as unpleasant is having to wait another 12 hours, or longer, before being able to hear normally again. I’d like to give you some background information on this phenomenon, as well as some tips and tricks on how to prevent it, or minimise its effects. Read more.

Have you ever wondered why airline food sometimes tastes so salty? Why it is that you can’t really taste much of what you eat during a flight? And why are herbal or pasta dishes with tomato sauce so often on the menu? Whenever I fly I always notice that I have cravings for tomato juice and ginger ale, none of which you usually find in my fridge at home. I thought I’d delve a little deeper and find the answers to questions like these. Read more.

Most people love travelling. Buzzing with excitement and enthusiasm, you set off to explore and enjoy the world near and far. New surroundings offer new insight and inspiration, ensuring that you return home with your batteries fully recharged. But travel can be less than romantic. Read more about the 5 main health risks while travelling.

Our reasons for travelling are diverse – business, visiting friends and relatives, attending a wedding, or maybe just a holiday you’ve been looking forward to for so long. Everything is arranged for your upcoming trip and flight. Then, just a few days before departure you discover you’re pregnant! Will flying be dangerous, whether for yourself or the unborn child? Are there health risks associated? Read more about pregnancy and travelling.

The countdown to the Olympic Games has begun. Very soon, thousands of athletes will start travelling to Rio de Janeiro in the hope of giving a record performance to the cheers of tens of thousands of fans. Are you planning to go to Rio? If so, please read these tips. Many illnesses are easy to prevent if you get the right vaccinations or take the necessary precautions. Are you travelling to Brazil? Ten health tips.

As a doctor at KLM Health Services, I regularly get questions about diseases transmitted by mosquitos. The Zika virus is a hot topic right now, and there’s Chikungunya and Dengue, but let’s not forget malaria, which affects 219 million people annually, resulting in 660,000 deaths. This is tragic considering that there a simple measures ensuring that travellers can prevent malaria when visiting high-risk destinations. Read more.

KLM Health Services, the VU Medical Centre (VUmc) and KLM joined forces in 2006 within the scope of the Doctor 2 Doctor project. The project aims to promote the transfer of knowledge between two university hospitals in the Netherlands and Kenya. In practice, it’s mainly a question of transferring knowledge from VUmc to the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret. The hospital, located in northern Kenya is the biggest in the region, inhabited by around 12 million people. Read more.

Travellers often ask me how to deal with mosquitoes and protect themselves from possible diseases transmitted by them. Good question, because an estimated 700 million people are infected with diseases transmitted by mosquitoes every year, resulting in more than a million deaths. Before giving you a few tips on how to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, let’s take some time to learn a little more about them, and their feeding habits. Read more.

The holiday season is almost upon us and families, many with children, will be looking forward to their annual summer holiday. One of the most annoying things you can encounter when travelling is vomiting or diarrhea that’s either due to travelling itself, or even worse, possible food poisoning. Read more.

Assuming you can refer to them as such, here are three of my “favourite” vaccinations. The first is one of the oldest vaccinations still in use, the second is a vaccination against one of the most serious diseases on the planet and the third is a vaccination against a very elusive virus. Read more.

Dealing with jetlag is one of the ultimate challenges for frequent flyers. Even if you’re only away for a few days – whether it be for business or pleasure – jetlag can keep you up at night and feeling drowsy during the day. But what exactly happens to your body when you experience jetlag? And what can you do about it? Read more.

What happens if you sprain your ankle flying over the Sahara? Or if you come down with a stomach-flu while crossing the Atlantic? Of course our cabin crew can tend to minor injuries with bandages and aspirin, as you would expect, but did you know that all KLM cabin crew complete first-aid training? There is a lot more medical equipment aboard our aircraft than you might think. Here’s an overview. Read more.

It may seem strange, but KLM also has their own doctors. At KLM Health Services, to be precise. They advise on all travel- and workrelated health issues abroad. You should think of vaccinations, prevention of malaria, general hygiene, and what to do if you get sick abroad. I am one of these doctors. Read more.