Occupational health

Regional offices

In the African Region, there has been a focus on health promotion at the workplace in the informal sector, a survey on OHS in Departments and Ministries of Health, and development of training modules for workers’ health and safety. Priority areas for AFRO are promotion of occupational health in the informal sector and small scale enterprises, identification and establishment of collaborating centres in occupational health, development of an information and education network for occupational health in Africa, a networking initiative on training programs and modules, and support for the WHO/ILO Joint Effort action plan.

In the Americas, the Pan American Health Organization has developed and is implementing a comprehensive regional plan on workers’ health. The plan covers 4 areas, the quality of the work environment, policies and legislation within the regulatory framework, promotion of workers’ health and delivery of comprehensive services for workers’ health. Each of these areas has a specific objective, an action plan, expected results and activities, and for each area and task the role of PAHO and the role of various national groups (employers, workers organizations etc) is specified.

In the Eastern Mediterranean Region there has been a focus on human resources development, with training of health care workers and occupational health staff in many industry sectors, such as postal workers and workers in the plastics industries. Support has been provided for the establishment of registration and data systems, and for the strengthening of research. Priority areas are a study on the development of occupational health services in Eastern Mediterranean countries, and health problems of working children.

In Europe, the focus has been the Good Practice in Health, Environment and Safety Management in Enterprises (GPHESME), which is a comprehensive workplace health management system that adapts working conditions to human work ability, promotes health, and provides continuous vocational education and training. The management system integrates health, environment and safety issues within the development strategy for each enterprise and sector. Key characteristics of the system include the need for compliance with current national regulatory frameworks, and a positive outcome of socio-economic appraisal of investments in HESME.

In the South-East Asian Region the focus is to develop strategies to enhance the health of vulnerable groups at the work place. The strategies include development of occupational health safety policy, promoting protective legislation, strengthening occupational health services, improving data collection and statistics and promoting routine reporting of occupational health diseases. The SEARO activities have focused on strengthening existing infrastructure, responding to occupational hazards, and capacity building for human resource development. An occupational health collaborating center in India has been designated. A survey is ongoing to establish a database of major risk factors for occupational health.

In the Western Pacific Region the focus has been on training in occupational health, with the main countries involved being Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Mongolia, the Philippines and Viet Nam. One program, the Healthy Workplaces Initiative, underway in many countries, is supported by a set of comprehensive regional guidelines for healthy workplaces. WPRO has been involved in review and development of occupational health legislation and standards in China, Mongolia and Viet Nam.