1694a Sustainable development goals and occupational health: an overview

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Abstract

The Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) call for an end to all poverty and marked improvements in health for all. The linkages of health to poverty reduction and to long-term economic growth have been shown to be much stronger than has been generally understood. The WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health elucidated the close connexions between conditions of poverty and maladies which include several non-communicable diseases (NCDs), associated with these conditions. Strong evidence links poverty, poor employment and working conditions (exposure to occupational risks), lack of education, and other social determinants to NCDs, creating a vicious cycle, whereby worsen poverty through their impact, while poverty results in rising rates of such diseases. At the same time, because of the magnitude of illness, disabilities and premature deaths they cause and the long-term care required, they reduce productivity and increase healthcare costs, thereby weakening national economic development.

Decent work is now at the forefront of the new sustainable development agenda, which for the first time explicitly refers to full and productive employment and decent work for all as a means of achieving sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth (SDG 8), and include goals relating to protecting labour rights and promoting safe and secure working environments of all workers, including migrant workers, women workers, and those in precarious employment. The SDGs also include a number of additional targets and goals, which have implications for health safety and wellbeing (e.g. SDG3, 4, 5, 10 and 12).

The SGDs recognise that inclusive and sustainable economic growth is not only linked to the number of economically active people and economic output, but also to the conditions in which they work. However, much still needs to be done to improve working conditions and promote decent work and, consequently, sustainable and inclusive growth.

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