Health care help at your fingertips

New international medical app available for all seafarers

Gard, in partnership with the Norwegian Centre for Maritime and Diving Medicine, has launched an international digital medical guide. The aim of the guide is to improve medical treatment on board and ultimately save seafarers’ lives.

The free-to-download Mariners Medico Guide is designed and tailored for seafarers, and provides step-by-step guidance for treating crew on board. Once downloaded it can be used without a phone or Wi-Fi signal, and in remote parts of a ship.

Gard special advisor and key member of the project team for development of the app, Alice Amundsen, said: “Seafarers do an outstanding job and deserve investment to ensure they feel safe and get the best possible health care at sea. Developing a free digital medical guide to improve medical treatment on board, and potentially save any seafarer’s life, feels like a big step forward for healthcare on board.”

The app emulates the symptom-led questioning approach of medical professionals to gather information to be able to diagnose and treat illness and injuries effectively. It has been designed and written by specialist maritime doctors working in the Radio Medico service. The guidance is set out in simple steps and language for users with limited medical experience. The app also aims to lower the threshold for seeking professional support from doctors ashore, guiding the user when to seek support from telemedical assistance services.

“We believe the app will improve medical treatment on board as well as save lives,” said Amundsen. “As the guide is digital, it is very easily updated, and seafarers should receive better medical attention faster.”

The app has been endorsed by the Norwegian flag state as satisfying the requirements for the provision of medical care and training on board ships. Gard is in discussions with other flag states who are expected follow Norway’s lead.

First movers

Amundsen said that several thousand downloaded the app in the launch week, with more than 10,000 visits to the Mariners Medico Guide. Seafarers are already benefiting from the support the app provides, according to user feedback shared with Gard.

One seafarer said: “Very good that you have made this app. We had a case last month with appendicitis on board and better planned how to get things done. When something happens, we are all a bit shocked and somehow it ends up being difficult to always remember where to look for information. This app looks very nice and especially when you can download it on your phone it’s easy to take with you when you meet the patient on location.”

Another commented: “The app makes it very easy to locate a problem with any part of the body using ‘Guide me’ and also through the body drawing, by just clicking the body part concerned. The app is perfect, giving step by step details for how to treat injury and give first aid.”

“It is more important than ever to safeguard seafarers’ health and wellbeing,” said Amundsen. During the 2020 pandemic year, Gard saw the number of mental disorder crew claim cases increase by 34%, alongside an increase in the number of deaths and suicides. During 2018 to 2021, the number of Gard claims relating to crew illness and death increased by almost 75%. Gard notes that an important feature of the Mariners Medico Guide is the increased inclusion of mental health symptoms and advice. “After all, wellbeing includes both physical and mental components,” Amundsen said. “We hope seafarers will find the app useful and we welcome feedback via [email protected].”

The Mariners Medico Guide can be downloaded on both desktop and mobile devices. For more information go to