International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) Publications has launched the ‘Global Health Emergency Guide: Helping Shipping Companies Prepare, Act and Recover,’ a comprehensive resource designed to aid shipping companies and crew in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from global health emergencies.

The guide draws on the critical lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic and other global health emergencies that have significantly impacted shipping operations. It sets out a step-by-step action plan that can be seamlessly implemented within a company’s safety management system (SMS) and incorporated into their crisis management plan (CMP).

The guide features extensive insights from global agencies, shipping companies, crews, medical professionals, and welfare organizations.

Key content areas include:

• Roles and responsibilities for all stakeholders

• Seafarer health and wellness, including mental health support

• Strategies to reduce the risk of an outbreak on board

• Crew change protocols for both crewing managers and seafarers

• Procedures for managing outbreaks in port and at sea

• Access to medical care on board and at port

• Emergency communications planning

• Re-assessing protocols and implementing lessons learned post-emergency

• Maintaining compliance with international regulations, including the WHO International Health Regulations 2005, the ILO Maritime Labour Convention 2006, and the FAL Convention.

Each section of the guide (before, during, and after an emergency) is supported by a toolkit containing over 30 checklists, posters, templates, and forms. These tools help companies practically implement protocols into their SMS and CMP, ensuring they are well-prepared to manage and mitigate the impact of global health emergencies.

“The Covid-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges to the maritime industry, highlighting the critical need for comprehensive health emergency preparedness,” said Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping. “This guide reflects on the industry’s collective response to the pandemic, incorporating best practices and lessons learned to better equip companies and crews for future health crises. Our goal is to provide a roadmap that will help safeguard the health and wellbeing of seafarers and ensure operational continuity in the face of global health threats.”

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