- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 11, 2001

Earth continues to "shrink" for the human race as modes of transportation get faster and more efficient. While this trend has allowed travel to many an exotic locale, it also has created new safety risks and health dangers.

Enter a company that has found its niche by catering to the traveler. It offers a cyber-stop full of helpful information about the condition of travel destinations and ways to take care of oneself mentally, physically and financially while enjoying the world.

MedicinePlanet

Site address: www.medicineplanet.com

Creator:

Headquartered in San Francisco, MedicinePlanet is the pioneer in the emerging mobile health field, delivering a suite of health care services that offer authoritative, real-time, location-specific, personalized health care via the Internet and wireless devices.

Creator quotable:

"MedicinePlanet was created to provide access to health care anytime, anywhere. Site users can find comprehensive pre-trip travel- planning information wherever they are on the go, whether in their hometown or a foreign land," says Mark Pruzanski, MedicinePlanet president and chief executive officer.

Word from the Webwise:

Founded in 1999, MedicinePlanet caters to anyone who's part of today's mobile society by offering a wide range of concise information and tools needed for successful travel around the planet.

Visitors must register to access any of the sections. The process involves creating a user name and password and giving the company a name and e-mail address.

Registration is immediate, and once logged in, visitors are privy to the Travel Health Centers devoted to "General Concerns," "Women," "Families," "Seniors," "Business," "Special Needs" and "Outdoors" and primary sections including "Travel Planning," "Risk and Diseases," "News and Alerts" and a "Health Travel Store."

The Travel Health Centers offer a varied selection of articles covering topics ranging from the necessity of travel insurance to preparing to scuba dive to traveling with diabetes to nipping cold sores and fever blisters in the bud.

Each article comes in easily digestible portions so as not to overwhelm the reader. While learning about blood clots and air travel, I found not only a summary of the problem, but specifics about the dangers of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) on long plane trips; what causes a thrombus; how common it is during and after air travel; who is at risk; ways of prevention; and outside links further clarifying the issue.

Additionally, most articles contain an "About the Author" section the eclectic mix of writers for Medicine Planet includes obstetricians, an expert on clinical tropical medicines, internists, pediatricians and an attorney specializing in travel-agency laws and regulations.

The site's primary sections will provide the latest information available to help travelers journey through more than 200 countries.

Someone planning a trip to Bangladesh, for example, will get an overview of the country and learn about current health and safety concerns, entry and exit information, diseases and immunizations, local health care, personal safety and environmental problems. The site even can tell travelers what side of the street to drive on. A briefing can be e-mailed to interested visitors.

Look to "Diseases and Risks" to provide a compact but pithy breakdown of 65 diseases, 15 areas on immunization and eight types of risk factors. I know more about the current state of dengue fever than I ever wanted to.

Finally, though I understand the "News and Alerts" section can warn travelers of country-specific problems, after clicking through a gantlet of misery "More Deaths in Sri Lanka," "Anthrax Outbreak in Zimbabwe" and "Widespread Bolivian Flooding" I may never leave home again.

Ease of use:

Content and navigability are crucial to a successful Web site, and MedicinePlanet does an excellent job by providing simple menu bars, drop-down menus, a search engine and well-indexed information to make finding answers a breeze.

Don't miss:

Visitors who travel abroad and need a prescription refilled will appreciate the medicine translator tool found under "Travel Planning." Using a simple and intuitive interface, just fill in the name of a drug, such as Synthroid (used to help regulate the thyroid gland), and learn that in Yugoslavia, it's called Tivoral and in Brazil, it can go by the name of Puran or Tetroid.

Overall grade: A

Remember: The information on the Internet changes constantly. Please verify the advice on the sites before you act to be sure it's accurate and updated. Health sites, for example, should be discussed with your own physician.

Have a cool site for the family? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at Webwise, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message (joseph@twtmail.com).

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