George Ciporkin was traveling in Fortaleza in northeast Brazil several years ago when he visited an art gallery and spotted a painting on a wall he was interested in buying.
Fluent in Spanish after living in Argentina for a year, Ciporkin figured Portuguese wasn’t far off and that the sales assistants and he would be mutually intelligible.
“We couldn’t communicate,” said Ciporkin, who lives in Bethlehem.
Although they are both Romance languages, they are different enough to not be easily understood to speakers of the other. After trying everything, from pointing, gesturing and repeating words, Ciporkin left frustrated and empty-handed.
What if he were injured or sick and no one could understand him?, he thought.
“How would you survive and no one spoke your language?” Ciporkin said.
For many conditions, the first couple hours are critical for treatment.
That’s when Ciporkin got the inspiration for a new product.
After two years of development, Ciporkin has come out with the Global Health Passport, pocket-sized booklets that provide a translation of a traveler’s health history and condition in two languages. The Global Health Passport costs under $15 and is available in any combination of 53 languages at www.globalhealthpassport.com.
Ciporkin, a former dentist and radiologist who has many years of training, wrote the entries himself and has them translated by a professional medical translation company which guarantees them to be error-free.
There are entries such as, “Are you currently lightheaded?” “Do you have a history of asthma?”
Another asks if an individual has an allergy to CT dye and checkboxes for “yes,” “no” and “not sure.”
“If you have a known allergy to CT dye or contrast agent, you have to have a premedication regimen, otherwise you can have difficulty breathing, your larynx goes into a spasm and you can die, or you can have hives. The range is huge,” Cirporkin said.
While senior travelers might appear to be the target audience for the Global Health Passport because they have more of a medical history, Ciporkin said, “This is designed for anybody, from the corporate traveler to the 22-year-old who goes mountain biking in a foreign country. They can end up in the hospital.”
Ciporkin said the Global Health Passport could be invaluable for medical tourists, individuals who seek medical and dental treatment in foreign countries, such as Mexico, Thailand and Malaysia, because it’s cheaper.
Ciporkin, who is just now launching the Global Health Passport, plans to sell the booklet at national travel shows, including the Los Angeles Travel Show in February.
“The challenge is convincing people they need it,” he said.
“It’s useful because it can save your life. It’s really that simple.”