This paper examines the major health threats and risks to employees in Ghana and some West African countries amidst the rapidly growing mining, metals, oil and gas industries. It looks at the role of key stakeholders, particularly academic health institutions in the evidenced-based management of occupational health to improve the health, productivity and performance of the working population.Methods
The paper was developed from extensive literature review and interview of some industry leaders to understand some historical trends of employee occupational health promotion and protection indices and the current situation of occupational health and hygiene standards in the sub-region.Results
Clearly, the present West African employee (local and expatriate) are heavily burdened with diverse kinds of health threats, both from the workplace and non-work-related sources. The threats and associated risks were noted to be hugely skewed towards infectious diseases and occupational health hazards origins. That notwithstanding, non-communicable diseases challenges, like mental health, hypertension, diabetes, cancers and musculoskeletal disorders had prominent place in the workplace health hazards and risks matrix.Discussion
Academic health institutions in West Africa, despite having major roles to play in defining and managing occupational health hazards, were noted not to be actively engaged. Training of competent professionals to run workplace wellness, occupational health and hygiene programs in high-risk workplaces in developing countries, research to have evidence based problem definitions and efficient alternative solution pathways with maximum health outcome are all some of the roles falling in the domain of academic health institutions. Legislation and occupational standards development cannot be achieved without credible research evidence support – this was noted to be a huge gap in the West-Africa sub-Region.Discussion
The way forward was identified as; key stakeholders working together using a systemic and systematic approach to progressively define and address workplace health problems to improve occupational health outcome.Discussion
I am currently and IFAD medical advisor and have been in this role for the past 7 months as consultant. Prior to assuming this position, I was a UN volunteer as a medical officer providing occupational health, primary health and emergency medical services to the UN staff deployed in North Korea. This I did for 18 months with no salary, but only basic allowance to support my basic living allowance. Before moving to North Korea, I served in a similar capacity for 10 years in Ghana, DR Congo and Lebanon with basic remuneration. I am optimistic that, this provided valuable services to contribute to the identified and shared gap (by ICOH and ILO) of far less that 10% of developing countries employees receiving occupational health services consistent with workplace risks and hazards they face. It is out of this enormous amount of occupational health experience that I present this paper. Finally, my strive to attain the highest competence in occupational health made me register for MPH (Occupational and Environmental health) in Tulane University School of Public health and Tropical Medicine. New Orleans, USA. This is costing me over US$ 50,000.00. With this financial commitment already made, I would grately appreciate the requested waiver support to attend this all important ICOH 2018 Congress. My sharing of my over 10 years of occupational health experience in 5 different countries and 4 continents in the would add a rich flavour to the program.