SAFETY4SEA: Is the industry doing enough to raise awareness about seafarers’ health? What is your feedback so far?

Dave White: When it comes to health care, I believe that the maritime industry is doing a lot well, however we could do a lot more! We are certainly seeing that organizations are looking at types of structure around medical health to prevent instances when seafarers are at sea. There are already available options to provide medical assistance to seafarers, but what we see is that many organizations go beyond that and actually look at putting medical screening tools in place. In this regard, during pre-departure, they are actually checking people for a variety of conditions, as well as doing the medical test for themselves.

S4S: Have you noticed any trend during the last years with respect to seafarers’ mental and physical health?

D. White: Mental health is becoming a very big topic not only for the maritime industry but also for other industries. Currently, a key challenge is the fact that we are now recruiting people from a variety of countries; populations of who we look after and who we employ are different. Therefore, there is different health capability and we are seeing, on a global basis, many requirements for people to look at; what type of population they employ, what are the risks of sending them to sea, and how we can check them before they go, so that they won’t be a problem for other crew members, the vessel and the owner. So again, the way companies are moving is to a more a medical-screening-based solution on top of the seafarers medical and they are really all about preventative medicine. If they can have less instances at sea, they will invest in such solution to make sure it happens.

S4S: What is your key message to industry stakeholders with respect to a healthier working environment onboard?

D. White: We are seeing a lot of different drivers depending on the industry but in maritime, when you can be on rotation for four weeks or more than six months, the health care goes with the ship. Therefore, some of the work we do with our medics and doctors onboard is actually putting in wellness programs; it could be about their diet, about their exercise or it could be doing group exercise programs. So fundamentally, once they are at sea, how can we keep them healthy beyond the jobs they are doing? In this regard, we do a lot of work around these programs; we have screened them before they have gone at sea, once they are onboard, we actually keep them fit and healthy. We are trying to make sure they understand how important is to take care of their health and educate them about their health needs. Overall, what we are trying to do is keep people healthy so they can continue working.

Above article is an edited version of Mr. Dave White, Global Director of Sales and Proposition - Medical, UnitedHealthcare Global during Posidonia 2018, June 4-8, Metropolitan Expo, Athens.

You may view his video interview herebelow:

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.