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Seafarers Meet Focuses on HIV

Margao: In all, 222 delegates from across 36 countries, including 48 from India, converged at a resort in South Goa to participate in the 10th international symposium on maritime health that got underway on Wednesday.

The four–day event is a biannual maritime medical meeting that brings together experts from maritime and related fields to discuss and deliberate on issues concerning seafarers’ health, safety and welfare.

A joint statement of commitment by the recently formed ‘Global Partnership on HIV and Mobile Workers in the Maritime Sector’ was the highlight of day one of the symposium. The Global Partnership is an initiative dedicated to reducing the vulnerability of seafarers to HIV towards a reduction in the number of new HIV cases among seafarers.

“The HIV pandemic has become one the most critical workplace issues in our time and we support the position that health actions should be directed by the ethical principle of equity and that access to life–saving and health–promoting interventions should be available to all. Our aim is that our collective actions give priority to health outcomes of seafarers and their families,” the statement read.

Dr Nenette Motus of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) provided the first keynote session of the symposium, speaking about the interrelation of HIV, mobility and maritime workers.

“Based on lessons learned, the Global Partnership will work to change HIV risk behaviours among seafarers, increase their access to services throughout their mobility, increase the ownership of key stakeholders in HIV prevention activities, and ensure human rights in the context of HIV testing and counselling,” Motus said.

“We believe that sustainability will also be created through linking organizations with a long–term commitment and integration in the lives of seafarers with inter–governmental organizations,” stated IOM HIV and health coordinator Rosilyne Borland.

Nebojsa Nikolic, president of International Martime Health Association (IMHA), added, “We believe that the Global Partnership has the potential and organizational infrastructure to underpin a global struggle against HIV/AIDS in the maritime community worldwide.”

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Source: Times of India

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