Annual update to the International SOS Risk Map released, highlighting the security and medical risk level present in countries across the globe

Now, for the first time, the risk map has a mental health risk layer

12 December 2022, Mumbai – Today, the world’s leading security and health risk services company, International SOS is releasing its annual interactive Risk Map 2023, designed to help organisations and their mobile workers better understand the risk level of each country around the world. With the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and the security conflict in Ukraine, the risk map provides invaluable information to enable organisations to recognise and understand the specific ways these risks may impact their employees. As global risks continue to evolve around the world, using data-driven tools like the Risk Map can help organisations maintain their Duty of Care responsibilities in these often-uncertain times.

The map provides a layer illustrating mental health illness globally using external data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Global Burden of Disease. It shows the estimated percentage of a location’s population suffering from mental health disorders1. This allows organisations, particularly large multinationals, to understand which locations may be particularly vulnerable to mental health issues. This data reveals the extent of the mental health epidemic that employees are facing and that employers must mitigate. Estimates are that around 14% (1-in-7) of people across the world are currently experiencing one or more mental or substance use disorders.

Dr Vikram Vora, Medical Director, Indian Subcontinent at International SOS comments, “Despite the easing of the pandemic, there have been significant increases in the risks associated with travel and health. While changing environmental and disease patterns have magnified existing risks like those of infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases are resurging – requiring organisations to renew their focus on employee health and wellbeing. The expanding dimension of mental health issues within the workforce is challenging organisations to upgrade their Duty of Care responsibilities from physical health to overall wellbeing. The Risk Map 2023 provides much-needed support for organisations by facilitating decision-making that can protect employees’ health and wellbeing through easy identification of geographical areas that may be of medical concern.”

One of the notable improvements in medical risk is the Caribbean islands, largely due to the easing of COVID-related travel restrictions. The medical risk for Mali has increased to ‘Very High’ as the security environment is complex. This has led to a challenging humanitarian situation and is resulting in the weakening of healthcare systems against increased demand. The Risk Map also provides a better understanding of the wider security situation in countries in which mobile workers may be travelling or working in. Which in turn, helps inform organisations to be able to create tailored solutions to mitigate the specific risks that their workforces may encounter.

Security: Crisis in Ukraine Brings Variation to the European Security Situation. The major security crisis from the past year has undoubtedly been the conflict in Ukraine. This has been reflected in the security-focused map, as parts of Ukraine are now marked as having an ‘Extreme’ level of security risk.

Sally Llewellyn, Security Director at International SOS comments, “The security crisis in Ukraine has clearly been significant, impacting both the country and bordering regions in a number of ways. At International SOS, we have worked with a variety of organisations through this challenging period, often directly supporting them with all their security, health, and travel needs. For instance, we have organised evacuations for large multinationals, helping some of their workforces leave Ukraine where necessary. We also support organisations who have remained in Ukraine, providing on-the-ground assistance and timely information on the risks which may impact them. This is particularly important for NGOs, for the media, and for professional services companies, where many Ukrainian employees now want to return home to visit loved ones.”

Despite the wide-reaching impact of the Ukraine conflict and the rise in social unrest associated with cost-of-living increases, the underlying security risk environment across Europe has not changed. Outside of Ukraine, the most notable risk rating increases have been in the Sahel where extreme security risk zones have expanded due to the rising risk of militancy – a trend also notable in Mozambique and other parts of Africa. Whilst in Colombia, a rise in criminality resulting in part from the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in high-risk zones.

Commenting on the Risk Outlook 2023, Neeraj Balani, Managing Director, International SOS, Indian Subcontinent said, “The immediate crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic may have passed, but businesses and governments have yet to reach calmer waters. Labour market shifts and talent shortages added to the mix. This disruption has been further deepened by geopolitical uncertainty and the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Employees are more attuned to risks, and many are now more anxious about travel than pre-pandemic. Organisations must account for risk rating changes and trends in their planning. Managers should ensure employees have access to reliable information about the risks they may face, support them with effective mitigation measures, and provide clear communication plans for employees before and during higher-risk travel. This study will also provide a good risk outlook benchmark to organizations who are upgrading their Travel Risk Management Policy to align it with ISO 31030. At International SOS, we continue to support organisations through uncertain times, helping them keep their global workforce safe in a world of altered risk profiles.”

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