IMO endorses guidance on ensuring seafarers’ access to medical care onshore

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been incidents of some States denying seafarers permission to go ashore to receive care for their medical issues, including for life-threatening, non-Covid-19 related, issues.

In such cases, receiving prompt medical care ashore can be a matter of life or death for the seafarers. 

Under the International Labour Organization’s Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), port States must ensure that seafarers on board ships in their territory who are in need of immediate medical care are given access to medical facilities on shore. The obligation to render assistance to seafarers in distress, including medical assistance, is also enshrined in the IMO Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR), Salvage and Facilitation conventions, as well as in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

A broad cross section of global industry associations in consultative status with IMO, developed a set of “Recommendations for port and coastal States on the prompt disembarkation of seafarers for medical care ashore during the COVID-19 pandemic” to address this urgent issue. The IMO has endorsed these recommendations, urging Member States to implement them and to share them with the relevant authorities. Click here to read the IMO’s Briefing 21 06/07/2020.