Can a new EU project improve health on the high seas?
The European Union has launched a new interdisciplinary project designed to optimise health management on ships without doctors on board.
In a time when seafarers still face plentiful health risks at sea, could the new e-healthy digital platform help lighten the load?
The last few decades have seen an increased effort to improve health and safety for seafarers. The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Maritime Labour Convention compels participating states to ensure that “seafarers’ work environment on board ships promotes occupational safety and health”. Nowadays, qualified medical officers are responsible for medical treatment and emergency intervention, and are required to pass a 40-hour medical refresher course every five years to meet international requirements.
But with merchant vessels rarely having a doctor on board, gaps in seafarer knowledge regarding nutrition and the difficulty of responding to emergencies at sea mean healthcare management remains an issue. According to parties involved in the European Union’s (EU) interdisciplinary e-healthy ship project, this is one area where digitilisation can play an important role.
Launched in 2017, the e-healthy ship project aims to adapt and optimise health management on container ships. A number of partners are participating in the project, including the Institute for Occupational and Maritime Medicine (ZfAM), software developer Hanseaticsoft, and shipping companies Peter Döhle and Reederei Roth.
The ultimate goal will be the development of an IT-supported health platform, which nautical officers will be able to access on a central laptop or tablet PC. This platform will provide information and new capabilities via a range of health-related applications, covering the bases of emergency care, telemedicine, documentation, vaccinations, hygiene, training and nutrition.
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