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Martek calls for safer shipping to mark European Shipping Week

Posted on 27th February 2017

February 2017

Martek Marine, the global maritime technology innovator, is leading calls to make the shipping industry safer for seafarers to mark European Shipping Week, taking place in Brussels this week. To encourage shipping companies to invest in improved healthcare for crew members, the company has pledged to donate $100 to charity for every life saved through the use of its revolutionary telemedicine offering iVital.

The world’s first telemedicine service available without a large upfront capital investment, iVital works by providing crews with a live connection to an onshore doctor, who can provide potentially lifesaving medical advice. The system includes a secure electronic archive of the medical history of all crew members along with state of the art medical monitoring equipment which supply live patient vital signs to trained healthcare professionals on shore, allowing them to make informed decisions about required treatment.

Now in its third year, European Shipping Week (27 February – 3 March) is intended to be a platform where policy-makers and industry regulators from the main EU institutions meet and engage with European shipowners and other stakeholders from the shipping sector. This year it will be marked by a series of events held in Brussels.

Martek Marine is urging industry regulators and decision makers to improve the facilities available at sea which protect and safeguard seafarers’ health. The call for increased safety comes after the publication of new research showing that almost 125,000 seafarers, around seven per cent of the total, are evacuated while at sea each year due to ill health.

Additionally, around one in every five ships is forced to divert due to a medical emergency according to the International Maritime Health Association. This issue is compounded by the Maritime Labour Convention which means ships with less than 100 crew members do not require an on board doctor, often forcing ships to take more drastic action to receive medical assistance for crew members in need.

Paul Luen, CEO of Martek Marine, said: “European Shipping Week brings together the industry’s top influencers and it provides the perfect platform to encourage safer seafaring. One of the best ways to do this is to promote ways of keeping crew safe, be that through education, training or through investment in technology.

“Over 90 per cent of accidents at sea are due to human error and our aim is to equip seafarers with much needed support, especially among smaller crews. This is why we’ve developed iVital, to safeguard seafarers all over the world at a price companies can afford to pay. This is a product which has the potential to save hundreds of lives every year at a fraction of the cost of previous systems.”

Unlike other telemedicine systems which require a large capital outlay and various add-ons to operate effectively, iVital is a fully inclusive telemedicine service, comes with no upfront costs and can be managed with small monthly payments. The system could lead to annual industry-wide savings of up to €160m as the provision of expert medical advice will solve the issue of crews calling for ultimately unnecessary diversions and evacuations.

To find out more about iVital, visit the Martek Marine website.