Seafarers’ Health took centre stage at Crew Welfare Week 2023
Seafarers' Health Took Centre Stage at Crew Welfare Week 2023
Ronald Spithout, the newly appointed Managing Director of OneHealth by VIKAND (VIKAND), recently participated in a panel discussion on seafarer health during Crew Welfare Week, organised by Safety4Sea.
He was joined by George Pitaoulis (Nakilat Shipping), Johan Smith (Sailors’ Society), Dr. Christian Lubaton (Nordic Medical Clinic) and Marinos Kokkinis (OneCare Solutions), with Capt. Yves Vandenborn (NorthStandard) moderating.
The wide-ranging discussion touched on many topics and drew important insights on the current state of seafarer health and wellness, as well as lessons from the past few years. Among them:
The pandemic brought a renewed focus to seafarer health – especially mental health concerns.
Connecting virtually, from team meetings to Telemedicine, has gained global acceptance.
The world now understands how critical seafarers are to global commerce and the delicate supply chain.
The panel also agreed it is time to recognise both the value and vulnerability of seafarers. Humans – not machines – run ships and keep goods flowing, and they must be treated as a valuable asset. Just as the maritime industry has rallied around issues such as decarbonisation, it must now raise awareness around the ‘S’ in ESG.
Many seafarers, said panellists, still feel that telling an employer about mental health struggles could put their job at risk. Helplines are a good last resort, but seafarers really need safe, regular, judgement-free support from medical professionals to deal with mental health issues before they become an emergency.
Today, a wide range of mental and physical health conditions can be managed both in person and remotely. This can help keep more seafarers in the workforce and save operators significant time and money in the long run. The panel also shared strong consensus around the idea that wellness is holistic. Instead of just reactively treating symptoms, maritime healthcare should proactively address the many interconnected aspects of seafarer health – mental, physical, social, financial, spiritual and more.
With diverse tools and a holistic approach, VIKAND’s solutions and services are precisely designed to address what is happening right now in maritime health. Our paradigm-shifting, proactive approach to crew asset management supports a healthier workforce, builds trust, prevents costly emergencies and could help make maritime careers more attractive and sustainable.
Ronald, concluded: “We believe that seafarers, you, me, we only have one health. That health comes from three dimensions, physical, mental and environmental. I believe that we look after seafarers, always, and we do that from all dimensions by using all innovations to make sure that they are fit and healthy. Remember that half of the medical costs are coming from injuries, and therefore it’s so important that we keep seafarers fit for their duties, mentally and physically. We owe it to them”.