Argentina is bound without reservation by the International Sanitary Regulations of the World Health Organization. Vessels take pratique in port, and may enter and berth if they fulfill the following conditions:
a) Clean port of sailing and ports of call.
b) No persons with infectious or contagious diseases or with fever on board.
c) No cases during the voyage of diseases of international concern, or of infectious diseases of an epidemic nature.
To be able to obtain this privilege of taking pratique in port, it is essential that Masters of all vessels arriving from abroad advise their Agents not less than 72 hours prior to arrival, that the vessel under their command is in the sanitary conditions required by Art. 45 of the Regulations, to enter port and go alongside. The message may be sent either in English or Spanish, and specimen texts in both languages are given herewith:
'please request free pratique for mv (1). . . . . . . proceeding from (2). . . . . . . with calls at (3). . . . . . . with (4). . . . . . . crew (5). . . . . . . passengers for Buenos Aires (or other port).....(6).......passengers in transit stop hereby declare that nobody on board affected by any pestilential disease stop sanitary condition good.
or in Spanish
'solicitamos pedir libre pratica telegrafica buque (1). . . . . . . procedente de (2). . . . . . . con escalas en (3). . . . . . . con (4). . . . . . .tripulantes (5). . . . . . . pasajeros para Benos Aires (or other port).........(6)......... pasajeros en transito punto declaro no tener a bordo personas afectadas por ninguna enfermedad pestilencial punto estado sanitario bueno.
In each case, the blanks must be filled in as follows:
1) Name of vessel and flag.
2) Port of commencement of voyage.
3) Full details of all ports of call.
4) Number of crew
5) Number of passengers for Buenos Aires (or whatever port first entered)
6) Number of passengers in transit.
7) Full name of master and also of doctor, if there is one on board.
As there have been cases of insufficient information being received from vessels, and "added in" by Agents in the translation, the authorities have established this standard form which Masters should follow in their messages, and which will accompany the request to the Port Health Authorities.
This facility refers to all Argentine ports. The message requesting free pratique must be sent to the vessel's Agent at first port of call, after which free pratique is automatic in all subsequent Argentine ports.
If, however, a non-Argentine port is called at en route, free pratique must again be requested at what will then become the "first Argentine port".
The Port Health Officer, together with other Officials will board on arrival for a routine inspection and the granting of Free Pratique. All vessels, without exception, must fly the "Q" flag on entry and until Free Pratique has been granted (fine for non-compliance USD 5000,-). The Doctors' visit does not normally delay the commencement of cargo operations.
It is important to note that the regulations regarding cholera must be fully complied with (see below).
Only a few African and Asian countries still requie an international smallpox certificate. All other countries requie a certificate, only if the person has been in an infected area fourteen days previous to arrival. The International certificate is valid for 3 years, 8 days after the first vaccination, and thereafter, from the date of inoculation.
W.H.O. does not recommend vaccination, as the epidemic is transmitted through contaminated water and foodstuffs which should be taken in a hygienic condition; packed, cooked, boiled, etc...
Infected areas are:
Africa: Burundi, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Congo, Zambia.
America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay.
Asia: Myanmar, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Phillippnes, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Vietnam, Yemen.
Argentine sanitary control regulations governing ships for the purpose of preventing cholera have been established by Resolution #1333 of December 1st, 1992, issued by the Ministry of Public Health and Social Action, which is transcribed herewith:
1. All ships regardless of their previous ports of call
1.1 Are forbidden to discharge sewage within 12 miles of the sea coat and/or in rivers.
1.2 Must have a purifying plant or an excrement storage tank. The discharge valves shall be sealed upon Argentine waters.
1.3 Ships having no sewage treatment systems must introduce sterilising chemical products into the storage tanks. Should compliance with these measures be verified and it is required to drain this sewage, this may be carried out with the authorisation of the Health Authority.
1.4 If the above requirements for sewage treatment are not compiled with or if the tanks need to be emptied, the Agent responsible for the ship shall take measures to transfer the sewage to vehicles, vessels or storage facilities on land or afloat, authorised to that end, so that the treatment, transfer and/or ultimate discharge can be properly controlled.
1.5 The elimination of normal residues shall be made through a system permitting their disintegration and sterlisation, without such operation producing any pollution.
2. Ships that in the last 180 (one-hundred and eight) days have not called at port of infected countries may make use of telegraphic free pratique, according to the established procedures.
3. Those ships that although proceeding from non-infected areas have on board persons coming from said areas that joined within the last 30 (thirty) days, shall enter port flying a "Q" flag and these persons shall be subject upon arrival to medical examination.
4. Ships that within 180 (one-hundred and eighty) days have called at ports that at the time of their stay were considered by the WHO or the Panamerican Health Bureau (PHB) as affected by outbreaks or epidemics of cholera, or where the disease is considered epidemic, shall not obtain telegraphic free pratique.
4.1 Ships shall keep all garbage heretically sealed to be discharged when and where the Health Authority so determines it.
4.2 Ships must have a sufficient stock of medicines, such as: doxyline, tetracycline, sulfanilamide, saline solution, glucose intravenous solution and salt tablets.
4.3 Ships shall immediately communicate any suspected cholera cases or symptoms, such as: fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea.
4.4 Masters shall send to the Health Authority, 72 (seventy-two) hours before arrival if by sea, and 24 (twenty-four) hours before arrival if by inland waterway, a communication with the following data:
a) Name of ship
c) Number of crew members
d) Kind of cargo and/or ballast. Total quantity of ballast water, bilge water, etc.
e) Last exact date of mooring in ports of infected countries.
f) Ports of call during the last 180 days.
g) Information on whether for any reason any crew member requires medical attention.
h) Statement of the chlorination of the ballast water, bilge water, etc., should this have been carried out.
i) Statement of number and location of valve seals for ballast water, bilges, etc.
4.5 The ship's Agent shall submit to the Health Authority this information in Spanish, signed by a company representative and bearing the company's stamp which must be duly registered with the Department of Health for the Control of Frontiers and Transport Terminals, an original and three (3) copies, of which one stamped and signed copy shall be handed to CONTRASE Argentine Coast Guard, for their respective records. When such information is not submitted, ships proceeding by sea from infected countries shall be stopped on arrival at Recalada or at the Roads of the Argentine ports on the Atlantic Seaboard.
4.6 and 4.7 are basically a repetition of item 4.5
4.8 Once the requirements called for are complied with, the ship will be allowed to enter port flying the "Q" flag. Once in port, the Master shall proceed to ratify or complete the telegraphic declaration, which will be considered as a sworn statement, putting on record whether or not the ship will need to pump out liquids.
4.9 While the sanitary emergency lasts, the pertinent authority or whoever the latter appoints will verify the seals are in position as declared and that the proportion of residual chlorine in the treated liquids is as declared by the Master or otherwise arrange for the incorporation of chlorine in untreated or insufficiently treated liquids and the placing of seals as considered necessary. Free pratique will be granted at the end of the Port Health inspection.
4.10 In those cases where the pumping out of liquids is necessary, authorisation must be requested from the Health Authority or whoever the latter should appoint, who will determine the requirements to be met in order to carry out this operation.
5. The treatment of liquids shall be carried out under the Shipping Company's responsibility, ensuring that the treatment must provide a residual effect of not less than 1.5 ppm of chlorine.
6. The registered representatives of the Shipping Company, Owners, Agents and Masters shall be responsible for complying with these regulations.
7. In those ports where there is no available personnel to carry out the above mentioned inspections the Health Authority will appoint an officer from he nearest Health Unit and will in case of need resort to provincial and/or municipal Health Authorities, Argentine Coast Guard, National Frontier Police or Armed Forces.
8. The duties of the Port Health Authority will be carried out from 07:00 to 19:00 from Monday to Friday, and applications for inspections or cancellations will be received until 17:00 hours on these days.
9. Transportation, lodging and food expenses, including the overtime required by tasks outside the established timetables, shall be for the account of whoever requests these services according to conditions established elsewhere by the Ministry of Health.