1701a Global background of insufficient coverage by occupational health services: what can we do to support prevention and care

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Abstract

Background

According to latest estimates by ILO 2.8 million men and women die every year caused by problems at work. Health disorders cause 2.4 million deaths. Costs are 3.9% of the global GDP or 3 trillion (million millions) USD. Problems include: poor legal and enforcement coverage, poor or no workers’ compensation systems, poor or no occupational health services – some 15% or less of the global workforce is covered. According to WHO 93% of global health resources go for treatment and 7% for prevention. Lack of knowledge, policies, systems and resources is evident.

Methods and processes

A number of solutions and good practices have been identified to be useful and successful, although largely in developed countries. Simple methods to increase coverages and enhance services are needed. The ILO Convention 161 on ‘Occupational Health Services’ provides tools to qualify and quantify occupational health services which are ‘entrusted with essentially preventive functions’.

Results

The present coverage of services globally is presented and essential components of present practices are highlighted. Countries that have properly established services tend to have healthier workforce, lower number of problems, illnesses and injuries at work. The Public Health Care system and family doctors can significantly contribute to such occupational health services while they need access to knowledge, training and contacts with workplace problems. Basic Occupational Health Services can be established.

Conclusion

The immediate reaction to problems caused by exposures to various risks at work is often first aid and treatment and usually just limited to that. There is a need to have a new focus and attention on the diagnosis, reporting and other proactive functions by health staff, including public health doctors, nurses or family doctors.

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