Convention concerning Health Protection and Medical Care for Seafarers (ILO Health Protection and Medical Care (Seafarers) Convention, 1987 (No. 164))

Health Protection and Medical Care (Seafarers) Convention, 1987 (No. 164), Geneva, 74th ILC session (08 Oct 1987), entry into force: 11 Jan 1991.
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Year of adoption: 1979
Year of entry into force: 1981
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Excerpts

Article 3
Each Member shall by national laws or regulations make shipowners responsible for keeping ships in proper sanitary and hygienic conditions.

Article 4
Each Member shall ensure that measures providing for health protection and medical care for seafarers on board ship are adopted which-

(a) ensure the application to seafarers of any general provisions on occupational health protection and medical care relevant to the seafaring profession, as well as of special provisions peculiar to work on board;
(b) aim at providing seafarers with health protection and medical care as comparable as possible to that which is generally available to workers ashore;
(c) guarantee seafarers the right to visit a doctor without delay in ports of call where practicable;
(d) ensure that, in accordance with national law and practice, medical care and health protection while a seafarer is serving on articles are provided free of charge to seafarers;
(e) are not limited to treatment of sick or injured seafarers but include measures of a preventive character, and devote particular attention to the development of health promotion and health education programmes in order that seafarers themselves may play an active part in reducing the incidence of ill-health among their number.

Article 5
1. Every ship to which this Convention applies shall be required to carry a medicine chest.
2. The contents of the medicine chest and the medical equipment carried on board shall be prescribed by the competent authority taking into account such factors as the type of ship, the number of persons on board and the nature, destination and duration of voyages.
3. In adopting or reviewing the national provisions concerning the contents of the medicine chest and the medical equipment carried on board, the competent authority shall take into account international recommendations in this field, such as the most recent edition of the International Medical Guide for Ships and the List of Essential Drugs published by the World Health Organization, as well as advances in medical knowledge and approved methods of treatment.
4. The medicine chest and its contents as well as the medical equipment carried on board shall be properly maintained and inspected at regular intervals, not exceeding 12 months, by responsible persons designated by the competent authority, who shall ensure that the expiry dates and conditions of storage of all medicines are checked.
5. The competent authority shall ensure that the contents of the medicine chest are listed and labelled with generic names in addition to any brand names used, expiry dates and conditions of storage, and that they conform to the medical guide used nationally.
6. The competent authority shall ensure that where a cargo which is classified dangerous has not been included in the most recent edition of the Medical First Aid Guide for Use in Accidents involving Dangerous Goods published by the International Maritime Organization, the necessary information on the nature of the substances, the risks involved, the necessary personal protective devices, the relevant medical procedures and specific antidotes is made available to the master, seafarers and other interested persons. Such specific antidotes and personal protective devices shall be on board whenever dangerous goods are carried.
7. In cases of urgent necessity and when a medicine prescribed by qualified medical personnel for a seafarer is not available in the medicine chest, the shipowner shall take all necessary steps to obtain it as soon as possible.

Article 6
1. Every ship to which this Convention applies shall be required to carry a ship’s medical guide adopted by the competent authority.
2. The medical guide shall explain how the contents of the medicine chest are to be used and shall be designed to enable persons other than a doctor to care for the sick or injured on board both with and without medical advice by radio or satellite communication.
3. In adopting or reviewing the ship’s medical guide used nationally, the competent authority shall take into account international recommendations in this field, including the most recent edition of the International Medical Guide for Ships and the Medical First Aid Guide for Use in Accidents Involving Dangerous Goods.

Article 7
1. The competent authority shall ensure by a prearranged system that medical advice by radio or satellite communication to ships at sea, including specialist advice, is available at any hour of the day or night.
2. Such medical advice, including the onward transmission of medical messages by radio or satellite communication between a ship and those ashore giving the advice, shall be available free of charge to all ships irrespective of the territory in which they are registered.
3. With a view to ensuring that optimum use is made of facilities available for medical advice by radio or satellite communication-
(a) all ships to which this Convention applies which are equipped with radio installations shall carry a complete list of radio stations through which medical advice can be obtained;
(b) all ships to which this Convention applies which are equipped with a system of satellite communication shall carry a complete list of coast earth stations through which medical advice can be obtained;
(c) the lists shall be kept up to date and in the custody of the person on board responsible for communication duties.
4. Seafarers on board requesting medical advice by radio or satellite communication shall be instructed in the use of the ship’s medical guide and the medical section of the most recent edition of the International Code of Signals published by the International Maritime Organization so as to enable them to understand the type of information needed by the advising doctor as well as the advice received.
5. The competent authority shall ensure that doctors providing medical advice in accordance with this Article receive appropriate training and are aware of shipboard conditions.

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