A partner in health and security in Angola Shaun RYAN 2

Our occupational health programme is certainly a method to ensure that the oil industry has decreased risk of individuals not safely conducting their tasks.

Shaun RYAN General Manager - Angola INTERNATIONAL SOS

A partner in health and security in Angola

June 2, 2022

Shaun Ryan, general manager of International SOS in Angola, talks to The Energy Year about the company’s business and strategy in the Angolan oil and gas industry and how it has been affected by the pandemic. International SOS is a health and security services firm with operations in 90 countries including Angola, where it has clinics in Ilha do Cabo, Maianga and Talatona.

In which areas do you see opportunities to enhance healthcare services for the oil industry in Angola?
Looking at the oil industry specifically, most of the oil companies and contractors have a very good philosophy around workforce health and wellbeing, as well as for dependants. We see ourselves as partners to many of these companies to see how we can further enhance and improve the healthcare delivery to these employees and dependants.
Luanda specifically is fortunate to have access to good healthcare facilities and healthcare professionals. However, we do sometimes find that outside of Luanda access to similar-calibre facilities and professionals can be limited. International SOS has the ability to bring healthcare professionals to these sometimes isolated areas like the offshore and similar remote areas.
We have also implemented credible and reliable case management methodologies via tele-consultation services with both our in-country medical services and our global network of specialist physicians. Furthermore, we have the ability to bring a patient to Luanda accompanied by our emergency medical personnel to further ensure suitable and adequate treatment.
With the global trend of ensuring “fit-to-work” so as to ensure the safety and health of individuals and groups, our occupational health programme is certainly a method to ensure that the oil industry has decreased risk of individuals not safely conducting their tasks, thus reducing any medical events at the place of work.
One key aspect of our service is our emergency response team, which is activated when there is a life-threatening event offshore or in a remote area. We have medical professionals on standby to ensure they are available to swiftly travel to this patient and carry out emergency medical care that in some cases can be life-saving. This patient accompanied by our medical team will then be moved to the identified medical centre according to the medical condition.
In this modern-day era, we are also very much involved in medical data analysis. We gather comprehensive medical data around workforce health so that we can advise employers on certain trends that may be adverse to workforce health, and more importantly how to mitigate such adverse trends, namely through awareness campaigns.

How will the pandemic affect healthcare service providers’ relationships with oil and gas companies in the long term?
Given the events during the Covid-19 pandemic and then the evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic it is our experience that not only International SOS but all healthcare service providers have a larger role to play in the general wellbeing of employees and their families.
We are supporting the oil and gas companies in terms of general health and the mental wellness of their workforces and families. They need to consider their approach to work, their private life and the preparedness to return to operations in a post-Covid context. The world may be returning to the new normal post Covid-19; however, healthcare service providers will have to maintain and sustain components from the pandemic such as hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and early identification of symptoms, and isolation facilities will remain in force for many years to come. International awareness of infectious diseases with epidemic potential will carry a far higher focus.
There are also other health risks such as non-communicable diseases and other infectious diseases like malaria that in the Angolan context are extremely dangerous and have a severe impact on the workforce. Employers cannot simply go back to pre-Covid practices, and we therefore see an opportunity for us to assist them in making sure that this evolution doesn’t compromise their good health and safety practices.
The importance of the overall wellness of employees has become more focal for the IOCs, as the last few years have been exceptionally stressful for everybody. The Covid pandemic was an eye-opener for all companies. Our clients now see their healthcare partner as a key role player not only in primary healthcare but also in looking at their employee wellbeing and assisting in developing more comprehensive strategies to help individuals in and outside of the office.
When looking at current global events, it seems the world is becoming a very strange place. Levels of uncertainty are high, and things can change overnight. Many oil and gas companies have realised that healthcare has a more important role than they thought it did two or three years ago.


How did healthcare providers adapt to the dramatic initial events of the Covid-19 pandemic?
I think internationally – and for Angola, specifically – the key words were “react and adapt.” In early 2020, we all had to be extremely agile and flexible. With the limited understanding of the disease at that time and the overnight movement restrictions, patients who needed access to healthcare were afraid of coming to a medical facility. We quickly set up teleconsultation services and home visits so as to maintain the safe and comfortable accessibility of our services. At the same time, we maintained a high level of up to date and reliable information to share with our clients.
The Angolan government reacted very quickly: air space was limited and there was mandatory RT-PCR testing to enter and exit Angola as well as quarantining. Rotational workers coming into Angola had to be quarantined and tested for Covid-19 before going offshore. Our main clients here are the major oil and gas companies and we partnered with the industry to ensure that the rotation of workers was managed efficiently in line with local health authorities’ criteria.

How would you describe the long-term relationship the company has had with the oil and gas sector?
We’ve collaborated closely with oil and gas companies in Angola for nearly 20 years now. We take care of their healthcare needs through our clinics, the occupational health department in Luanda, specifically by providing pre-employment checks, “fit-to-work” certificates and other medical checks.
Offshore and onshore we provide medical professionals who take care of the day-to-day medical needs of the personnel on the work sites. The clinics service also helps the companies to provide access to healthcare services of international standards to their employees based in Luanda. Our clinics also play an important role in the management of medical evacuations from the offshore sites.
On top of these services, we provide consultancy for our clients’ HSE managers and help them manage events affecting occupational health departments and assist them in better anticipating and managing certain scenarios, trends and patterns within the workforce. Through the provision of high-quality health and security services, we help our clients to maintain a resilient workforce so they can achieve business continuity and productivity. Clients also benefit from meeting their duty of care responsibilities and sustainable development goals.

What is the company’s growth strategy in Angola beyond the oil and gas sector?
We have a lot to offer in many other sectors. Providing services to the oil and gas industry has been our core business in Angola for a number of years. International SOS is a group that services a wide range of industries globally. We want to use our international experience across sectors to contribute to the development of the Angolan economy as a whole.
We are gradually diversifying our client portfolio into telecommunications, construction and the banking sector. Regarding mining, significant mining companies are entering the Angolan market, which is good for Angola given its known mineral resources. Our long experience in health and security services in Angola is a considerable asset. We want to partner with them during their various operational phases – that is, during their exploration, construction and production phases.
In the International SOS global group strategy, Angola is a key market in the Africa region. Looking ahead to the next five years, we are very optimistic.

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