Cases of seafarers being denied medical care for conditions unrelated to COVID-19 have been reported to the International Chamber of Shipping.
The body, which describes the news as “alarming”, has observed that there are cases of seafarers being refused entry to port or, in some cases, being denied evacuation for over four days.
“This is simply not acceptable,” said Guy Platten, Secretary General of the ICS.
In a recent webinar, held on May 28 by the World Health Organization, Natalie Shaw of the ICS also reported that seafarers are finding it difficult to get vital medicines.
“Seafarers may not necessarily divulge all of their medical conditions prior to going onboard… because they obviously don’t want to publicly declare something that they might feel stigmatized for… we now have some people who have been onboard vessels a lot longer than they would normally be who are finding it very difficult to get their prescriptions,” she said.
During the same webinar, Suzanne Stannard of the International Maritime Health Association advised that the issues include working out what medication has been prescribed and understanding whether the medication is available in port (as some countries ban drugs that other countries allow).
“This should not be impossible to sort out with good communication between all authorities and port agents and health care providers on the ground,” Ms Stannard said.
The ICS re-issued, with additional content, its “Guidance for Ship Operators for the Protection of the Health of Seafarers,” in late May.
Among 48 pages of content, the new guidelines contain recommendations on:
- Safe port entry
- Shipboard measures to address risks associated with COVID-19
- Managing an outbreak of COVID-19 on board ships
- Managing other medical issues during COVID-19, including medical assistance to seafarers in ports