he International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is warning of reports of seafarers being denied medical evacuation or access to ports despite serious medical conditions, describing the practice unacceptable.
“We’re receiving alarming reports of seafarers who are suffering from serious medical injury such as a stroke, be denied medical evacuation for over four days. This is simply not acceptable,” Guy Platten, SecretaryGeneral of the ICS said on Friday. ICS has issued new guidance for ship-owners and operators to deal with unwell seafarers.
The chamber said on Thursday, May 28, that it was planning to remind governments of their obligations to provide medical care for seafarers during a virtual meeting of healthcare professionals, organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and International Labor Organisation (ILO), where the latest guidance for seafarers was set to be discussed. The 48-page document builds on the previous guidance issued in March, providing comprehensive recommendations on: Safe port entry, shipboard measures to address risks associated with COVID-19, managing an outbreak of COVID-19 on board ships and managing other medical issues during COVID-19, including medical assistance to seafarers in ports.
“The new guidance should serve as a reassurance to governments and port authorities that it is fully possible to conduct crew changes in a safe and effective manner. Urgent action is now required to ensure that no other seafarers are subjected to prolonged period without medical assistance if they need it,” the chamber pointed out.
Since the outbreak of the virus, COVID-19 related restrictions and the drastic reduction of air traffic have prevented over 200,000 seafarers from routine changeovers, according to the data from ICS. Spending an extended period onboard, these seafarers are at risk from adverse health effects, including fatigue and mental health issues.