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Enhanced pre-employment medical examinations are now offered to all Gard members employing Filipino crew.

In the late1990s Gard experienced numerous claims arising from illness of Filipino seafarers due to medical conditions which pre-existed the time of signing on, but which were not detected by the basic pre-employment medical examination. Such claims included the cost of repatriation, medical treatment, compensation and sickness wages and in some cases the amounts were substantial.1

Enhanced PEMEs for Filipino crew lead to savings.

In 2000, responding to feedback from members employing Filipino crew, Gard set up a test project to establish whether the savings gained by having an enhanced pre-employment medical examination (PEME) with more comprehensive testing would exceed the additional costs involved. Maritime Medical and Laboratory Clinic, Inc. of Manila (MMLC)2 were contracted to carry out the tests and the project has been administered by Gard AS through its Hong Kong subsidiary, Gard (HK) Ltd, and its Manila correspondents, Del Rosario & Del Rosario.

A detailed analysis of the test results for 5,024 seafarers who underwent the Gard PEME between May 2002 and April 2004 revealed that the savings gained by having an enhanced PEME did justify the additional costs involved and in September 2004 the Gard Executive Committee decided that the project should be implemented on a permanent basis.

The PEME consists of 24 mandatory tests including an extra test for food handlers. The cost of the 24 tests is PHP 2,750 (approximately USD 50) and, if the extra test for food handlers is included, PHP 3,000 (approximately USD 55). Gard pays the cost of the tests in full. Fifty per cent of this amount, representing the cost of the basic element of the tests which would be payable by the member anyway as an operational expense when signing on crew, is debited to the member. The remaining 50 per cent, representing the cost of the enhanced element of the tests, is absorbed by Gard and appears on the member’s loss record as a claim without deductible.

To monitor the effectiveness of the project any crew illness claims involving seafarers who have undergone the Gard PEME are evaluated by Gard (HK) Ltd and MMLC to determine whether the symptoms of the illness should have been noted at the time of the PEME and, if not, whether the tests in the PEME should be supplemented or changed. The result of the evaluation is advised to the member concerned.

Any members requiring further information about the programme may contact Gard (HK) Ltd.

1  See article “Philippines – Pre-employment medical examination for seafarers” in Gard News issue No. 165.
2  MMLC are licensed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) and by the Philippine Department of Health to conduct medical examinations of overseas workers, including seafarers. They are also accredited by the Norwegian Maritime Directorate, the Panama government and other supervisory bodies.

Any comments to this article can be e-mailed to the Gard News Editor.

Gard News is published quarterly by Gard AS, Arendal, Norway.