The following is the text of a press release issued by the newly formed International Martime Medical Association:
(LONDON) — A new trade association armed with a broad mandate to represent and promote the health and medical interests of the worldâ€™s seafarers, port workers and cruise passengers as well as improve shipboard hygiene is launched in London today (Jan 4th).
The International Maritime Medical Association (IMMA), as it is to be known, will look after the medical interests of those involved in the shipping industry worldwide and work to lobby politicians and regulators who influence this important sector of the global shipping industry. It will work alongside, and draw on the medical expertise, of the International Maritime Health Association, an existing membersâ€™ association for maritime doctors and port clinics.
IMMA, which is a â€˜not for profit organisationâ€™, will operate out of the Baltic Exchange in London. It will not only represent the medical and health interests of the maritime sector globally, but also act as a legislative watchdog and lobby for change as and where necessary. It is the only trade association of its kind in the world.
Armed with a mandate to highlight the health and medical issues of the worldâ€™s seafarers equally from an ownersâ€™ and managersâ€™ perspective as well as through the eyes of the seafarer and the unions, IMMA will bring the views of the ship and crew manager and the seafarer to the forefront when influencing future regulation of this key area of the global shipping industry.
It has established a permanent secretariat in The Baltic Exchange in London to support and promote the interests of its members. A fullyâ€employed Secretary General has been recruited and a nineâ€strong board of directors bringing together expertise from the medical as well as shipowning, P&I, port agency and medical auditing spheres is being assembled.
Michael Van Hall, President of Gezellig, Inc. and formerly President of van Hall Health Inc. and Managing Director Maritime Sector at Health Systems International, Indiana, has been elected as the associationâ€™s first President.
Full membership of IMMA is open to all stakeholders interested in seafarer and maritime health, fitness and medicine: notably port and shipboard doctors; port clinics; hospitals; medical and speciality medical groups such as dentists and orthopaedists; pharmacists and medical equipment and drug supply and testing companies; P&I Clubs; port agents and port operators as well as shipowning and shipmanagement shipping companies.
IMMA will operate as the â€˜Goâ€Toâ€™ place for advice and services on, for example, preemployment medical examinations (PEME), nutrition/dietary, keeping a crew fit and healthy, immunisations, training of the â€˜medicalâ€™ person onboard, telephone and webâ€based medical advice and advice and guidance relating to the operation of doctors and hospitals in the major ports of call.
Michael van Hall said: â€œSeafarer health has become such a crucial issue as concern over the seafarer shortage problem impacts on lengthening seaâ€time, longer working hours and less relaxation time. Conversely, crew managers and ship owners are finding it hard to balance the demands for higher operational output from their seagoing workforce with the needs for a healthy and contented crew base. And that is before we consider the insurance implications of rising health costs in a sector that suffers from a lack of understanding and empathetic regulatory structure.
â€œIMMA has been formed to represent and tackle all of these issues from a practitionersâ€™ as well as from an employersâ€™ standpoint,â€ he added.