The changing economic structure of the maritime industry and its adverse effects on seafarers' health care rights

Shannon Guillot-Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: This review seeks to understand whether and how seafarers can exercise their human right to health care and the factors that facilitate or impede that exercise. The general focus is on a critical policy analysis of labour policies from the mid-twentieth century through today, with a specific focus on how Filipino seafarers access their health care rights. Materials and methods: The methodology includes a critical policy analysis of seafaring, focusing on mid-twentieth century political shifts in the recognition and regulation of health care rights. The analysis of international and United States policy provides the backbone for understanding the health care experiences of seafarers by laying the ideological, theoretical, and political foundations of labour rights and precarious employment. Results: Policy analysis shows that there are numerous laws, regulations, and human rights norms that have been established to protect seafarers, but uncertain and limited recourse to lay claim to such laws, regulations, and norms while at sea. Lack of recourse to policies and regulations, taken together with the changed conditions of labour and worker protections through technology and neoliberal policies, create the conditions that may increase the health inequity among seafarers'. Conclusions: Health policy discussions in the United States and internationally must not solely focus on the health of seafarers as an interruption to travel and trade, but policy makers should consider that their decisions may contribute to how seafarers can exercise their rights to health care. In this context, health is more than disease and access to care - economic and governance structures come to not only matter, but play an integral role in the facilitation or impediment of health care and to the health arrangements//conditions of workers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-82
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Maritime Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017


  • Health policy
  • Labour practices
  • Medical humanities
  • Neoliberalism
  • Seafarers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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