Global maritime technology innovator Martek Marine has teamed up with maritime professionals’ trade union Nautilus International to launch a first-of-its-kind survey exploring the provision and effectiveness of healthcare services onboard seafaring vessels.
The survey is calling on all seafarers to give their views on the accessibility and quality of medical assistance on board their vessels. Maritime professionals are invited to contribute past experiences of medical emergencies and suggest what new provisions would make them feel safer at sea. Martek has also given all participants the opportunity to be entered into a prize draw for the chance to win a free Fitbit Blaze upon completion.
This survey will help fill a void of knowledge in the area of maritime healthcare. Close to 1.5 million seafarers are operating at any given time on around 55,000 merchant vessels worldwide. Each year, approximately 7% of these will be evacuated from the vessel they are working on due to ill health; often at great financial cost. Almost a quarter of these evacuations prove unnecessary, questioning the efficiency of the measures in place to deal with medical emergencies.
The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) states that all ships carrying over 100 crew members and passengers for voyages of three days or more must have a medical doctor onboard. However, the majority of merchant vessels are crewed by fewer than 25 people and subsequently rely on assistance from professionals on land.
Martek Marine, a key player in the maritime technology sector, has recently launched its own telemedicine offering, iVital, to bridge the gap between medical provisions on land and at sea. iVital combines state-of-the-art medical monitoring equipment with 24/7 access to a team of experienced medical professionals on shore. With access to live vital signs, the patient’s full medical history and a high definition video stream, consultants can assess ill or injured crew members and make accurate diagnoses and informed decisions on necessary actions.
Chief executive of Martek Marine Paul Luen said: ‘Crew safety is of paramount importance to us and forms a large part of our work. The provision of reliable and suitable medical assistance at sea is a critical issue no matter the environment but with the additional risks associated with working at sea it’s crucial we work to find out more about the experiences of seafarers.
‘We’re always trying to find new solutions to problems and if this survey reveals some limitations to medical provisions on board vessels, we will strive to offer a resolution benefiting both employers and their staff. Crew welfare is a serious issue, so much so that the information generated from the survey could quite literally be lifesaving.’
Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said: ‘As the voice of maritime professionals, we must strive to understand the conditions in which our members are working. We take great pride in ensuring the highest possible safety standards are in place.
‘Getting a true representation of the medical assistance available to seafarers can help us answer the question of whether provisions are acceptable and where there is room for improvement.
‘If, off the back of the survey, measures can be taken to improve medical support at sea, then it will be a win-win situation for both seafarers and their employers all around the world.’
Seafarers can complete the survey through the Nautilus website or by visiting https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CHJ5LQ9.