Group clamours for occupational health policy in Nigeria

Okon Akiba

The Society of Occupational and Environmental Health Physicians of Nigeria (SOEHPON) has called on the Federal Government to establish a special National Policy and Programme for occupational health in the country.

This call was made during the group’s 2017 yearly conference held in Lagos with the theme, ’Occupational Health for All.’

The national president of the body, Dr. Okon Akiba, in his welcome address, noted that occupational health is non-existent in some sectors in Nigeria.

According to him, employers of labour are more interested in the work, forgetting that people who do the work and the place the work have to be healthy and safe.

“Health and safety at work are important matters that relate to the general health and well being of working people and therefore, should be given due consideration in policies, at all levels”, he said.

He also said that health and safety problems at work are in principle preventable and this can be achieved by using all available tools such as; legislative, technical, research, training, education, information and economic instrument.
He stated that the policy should include actions for providing competent occupational health services for all people at work.

“Such programme should include the development of appropriate legal provisions and system for enforcement and inspection by competent authorities responsible for occupational health.”

The government should ensure the development of necessary infrastructure for effective implementation of occupational health programmes, such as research programmes, training and education, information services and data banks. Networking of such infrastructures within and among the countries would substantially facilitate their efforts to implement national programmes.

“A realistic long-term objective to organize well-functioning and competent occupational health services for all workers to ensure healthy and safe workplaces; as well as the required services for each individual health workers,” he noted.

The national secretary, Dr. Uche Enumah, said the conference is a time to learn, upgrade knowledge and to interact. “It is also a time to share what you have learnt, what you’ve been doing so that others can learn and improve their practice. It is also a time to network, a time to find out what people are doing from different locations by way of operational health, how the work affects the health of the workers and how the workers health made them to be disposed to their work.”.

For the assistant secretary, Dr. Mrs. Chinonye Nwankwo, the 2017 conference is so rich because of its wide representation across all sectors. “We have experts from the US, UK, sharing their experiences. We have a company from the community health group, from the ministry of environment and International Labour Organization, (ILO). So it is actually reflection of all, occupational health for all.”

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Okon AkibaSOEHPON


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