ICMA General Secretary Rev Hennie La Grange attended the 10th International Symposium on Maritime Health in Goa, India at the end of September. The event was organised by the International Maritime Health Association (IMHA). The theme was “Quality maritime health and seafarers’ welfare”.
The event was attended by delegates from maritime organisations including the ITF, IMO, and ILO and by representatives of ship owners and national maritime authorities. While in Goa, Rev La Grange attended an informal meeting of port chaplains and welfare workers of various ICMA member organisations in India. Together they pledged closer ecumenical co-operation for the benefit of seafarers. Fr Anthony Baliswamy was chosen to organise communications among the group.
The conference covered issues such as HIV, seafarers’ health and fitness, and the health of fishers. The chaplains and welfare workers employed by ICMA member organisations have a vital role in caring for the health of seafarers: counselling them in distress, visiting them in hospital, keeping families informed and distributing educational material onboard ship.
Two members of ICMA member Nederlandse Zeemancentrale, Bernt Koning and Ricardo (Ryk) van Lent, addressed the symposium. Bernt Koning’s presented a paper on the problem of fatigue, while Ryk spoke on the role of the seafarers’ welfare providers in health care. Hennie la Grange co-chaired part of the symposium with Dr Rob Verbist.
Rob Verbist, celebrated physician from Antwerp, is past president of IMHA and consultant to the Seafarers’ Health Information Programme (SHIP), a project of the International Committee on Seafarers’ Welfare (ICSW) of which ICMA is also a member. Dr Verbist was acknowledged by IMHA for his academic achievement on completion of research at the University of Barcelona. Rob was elected to the board of IMHA.
IMHA elected as its new president Dr Suresh Idnani, organiser of the symposium, Presidium member of the ICSW and co-ordinator of the ICSW’s hugely successful South-Asia Regional Welfare Programme.