Country Governments need to mainstream policies on Occupational and Environmental health

The craft of occupational and environmental health presents to global health through a mosaic of issues, diseases, policies, contrasts and maddening contradictions that requires deep quantities of indigenously manufactured public health practitioners and policy makers in every country who can shape the trajectory in favor of science, liberty and life. For decades now, issues around occupational and environmental health have either been low priority or no priority at all. Thankfully, due to vocal physicians and public health champions, policies around this craft are slowly stirring from its long night of slumber to a more liberal conversation that defines our days.

Global health challenges around occupational health

Schools of public health teach this, researchers write this, advocates for health talk about this but yet the craft is so vast and so diverse that the spirit of global health is not enough to address these challenges, which are driven by special interests, cost cutting policies, cheap labour, absence of moral compass and much more.

Air pollution induced cancers, tobacco induced cancers, asbestos induced consequences, Artisanal Small-scale Mining (ASM) induced outcomes, pesticide induced problems, lead induced diseases, benzene exposure, experimental carcinogenicity of aspartame, silica induced dust outcomes and much more call for an unspoken urgency that practitioners with head and heart in the right place must address. These are only superficially pointed out concerns, but the when we look deep, millions and millions are affected with no element of safety, security or support to fight these lonely battles.

With rising cross boundary trade, globalization and cross thematic consequences, due attention in re-shaping occupational health and strengthening environmental health outcomes is essential. While in many countries there are dedicated ministries to address the issues of occupational related hazards, the ministry of health in most places lack human resource competence in addressing the cascading risks and effects that stem out of occupational issues. Addressing the issues around occupational health, we need to understand that dealing with work related disorders is not sufficient by itself, but rather all factors that affect workers’ health need to be looked at.

World-over, legislations around adequate enforcement machinery with competence in occupational medicine must be laid out to build safety nets to prevent occupational hazards that affect the goals of achieving one health. 

At the heart of global public health progress, Collegium Ramazzini seeks to advance occupational and environmental health issues by bridging scientific knowledge with socio-political centers that have the responsibility to protect public health. Such institutions must be encouraged and strengthened to scale up the work in occupational and environmental health wherein technical support can be rendered to country governments with limited resources and have their policies amended and strengthened.

My recommendations in broad strokes to reform the trajectory of occupational health

Country governments must amend legislations around occupational concerns that factor in modern challenges around various cross sectoral issues including climate change, social systems and changing social patterns in personal and workspaces.

Occupational health and environmental health issues need to be discussed more deeply in medical schools to build a deeper understanding and consensus on prevailing concerns of our age and approach to patients with occupational centered illnesses.

Educate lawyers, judicial officials, police and parliamentarians on why occupational and environmental issues and legislations have a bearing on human health and how casual approach in such processes can be have deep consequences.

Create public health committees across every district, state, national level of governance which can be tasked at looking into various occupational hazard and to suggest ways to protect and prevent at risk teams. Often so many leaders understand what a safe working environment looks like but might not have the tools to create a safety culture. Enabling and supporting this becomes crucial.

Learn from historical lessons and also learn from potentially predictable possibilities. In the end, the moral conscience to create a better world must see the light of day amidst the complex noise that dictates this journey.

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