The Society of Occupational and Environmental Health Physicians of Nigeria (SOEHPON) has called on the Federal Government to adopt a National Policy and Programme for occupational health in the country.
This call was made last week during SOEHPON 201 7 Annual Conference & Annual General Meeting (AGM) meeting held in Lagos with a theme, ’Occupational Health for All.’
Welcoming guests to the conference, the national President of SOEHPON, Dr. Okon Akiba noted that Operational Health for some sectors in Nigeria is not effective adding that there is a huge gap.
He said employers of labour are more interested in the work forgetting that people that do the work and the place that the work is being done has to be healthy, safe because a healthy workforce is a healthy organization and the end point is enhanced productivity.
“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. Health and safety problems at work are, in principle, preventable and should be done by using all available tools, legislative, technical, research, training, education, information and economic instruments,” he said.
He further stated some of the new healthy working life they want which include encouraging the Federal Government to prepare a special National Policy and Programme for occupational health that 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 that are especially responsible for occupational health.
“The government should ensure the development of necessary infrastructure for effective implementation of occupational health programmes, including health services, 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,”his speech read among other things.
Furthermore, at artisanal level in Nigeria, he said expert support to such workplace activities should be solicited from expert’s communities, appropriate professional bodies like SOEHPON, ISPON and others and other nongovernmental organizations to participate in and give support to occupational health activities at all levels of the workplace among other things.
In an interview with journalists, Dr. Akiba maintained that the law guiding operational health is Nigeria is obsolete and that’s why the association is passionate and very fanatical about government bridging this gap.
He said the meeting recognized the urgent need to develop occupational health at a time when rapid changes in working life are affecting both the health of workers and the health of the environment in all countries of the world. The meeting also adopted proposal for action aimed at the implementation of the strategy.
He also said the conference is SOEHPON tradition to yearly bring to focus some of the major occupational and environmental health practices and development challenges in Nigeria, by high lightening them as a theme and sub themes in their annual conference.
Also commenting, SOEHPON national secretary, Dr. Uche Enumah said the conference is a time to learn from each other, time to upgrade knowledge and a time to interact. “It is also a time to share what you have learn 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,” he said.
SOEHPON assistant secretary, Dr. Mrs. Chinonye Nwankwo also noted that2017 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
Assessing Nigerian’s compliance to ILO as a signatory, Mr. Dennis Zulu said there has always been a challenge with Nigeria implementing it just like other countries. He noted that Nigeria hasn’t reviewed its law since 2004. “We are trying to work with the Nigerian government at the moment to revise the act and make it much more relevant in the sort of environment you are working in,” he added.