Sadly, there have been cases in Australia of seafarers not getting access to medical care. These include a seafarer with an injury to his ankle, and another who desperately needed to see a dentist. Both seafarers were forced to leave the country without access to medical care.
The situation continues to worsen with some governments continuing to make the situation ever-worse. The International Chamber of Shipping has launched a global study into refusal of medical care for seafarers.
Shipping Australia will be taking part in the research and will be contacting members soon.
Australia is firmly obliged to provide medical services to seafarers under the Maritime Labour Convention.
Australia is a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) and is therefore also bound by the International Health Regulations 2005 which generally entered into force in 2007.
Annex 1A and 1B of the Regulations impose duties on countries to provide access to an appropriate medical service so as to allow the prompt assessment and care of ill travellers. They also require the provision of access to equipment and personnel for the transport of ill travellers to an appropriate medical facility; and for countries to provide an assessment of, and care for, affected travellers by establishing arrangements with local medical facilities for their isolation, treatment and other support facilities and services that may be required.
In Australia, section 4(b) of the Commonwealth’s Biosecurity Act 2015 says that one of the objects of the Act is to give effect to Australia’s international obligations under the International Health Regulations.