Ministry Hosts Workshop on Workers’ Health

Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, is hosting a two-day National Workshop on Workers’ Health.
  • Bringing remarks at the opening, Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Country Representative for Jamaica, Dr. Noreen Jack, said the discussions will be useful in getting recommendations for action in the workplace.
  • Findings and recommendations from the National Outlook on Workers’ Health of Jamaica 2017 will be shared at the workshop, and the framework for a National Plan of Action will be developed to include recommendations from workshop participants.

The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, is hosting a two-day National Workshop on Workers’ Health.

The workshop, which began yesterday (April 27), is being held under the theme ‘Healthy Workplaces – Healthy Spaces – Healthy Workers’ at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.

Bringing remarks at the opening, Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Country Representative for Jamaica, Dr. Noreen Jack, said the discussions will be useful in getting recommendations for action in the workplace.

“We expect to leave this meeting after reaching important consensus related to the design and implementation of the action plan, and (this) should allow us to address the social, environmental and economic determinants of workers’ health, close the gaps of inequalities they cause and boost prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) at the workplace,” she said.

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson, whose address was delivered by Permanent Secretary, Colette Roberts-Risden, welcomed the initiative and the support of international, regional and local partners.

The Minister underscored the negative impact of NCDs on the country’s social protection programmes and warned that if the trend continues, there would be tremendous strain on the country’s resources.

“An increase could place burden on the National Insurance Scheme through increased payouts. Another negative impact could be in the form of contraction in the working population of contributors and the resultant reduced contribution inflows into the National Insurance Fund,” she pointed out.

However, the Minister said that with the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Department will play a more direct role in reducing the presence of NCDs in the workplace.

“With the recent tabling of the Occupational Safety and Health Bill, the Ministry’s reach and scope in this area will be widened, as our mandate will expand to all areas of economic activity, including households where domestic helpers are employed,” she said.

Meanwhile, Director, Policy, Planning and Development Branch in the Ministry of Health, Howard Lynch, said the workplace plays an important role in combating the rise in chronic diseases, and encouraged employers to promote participation in exercise, thus preventing needless disability.

He added that while there is more to be done, he is pleased with the progress that is being made.

“The Ministry of Health has long since encouraged health and wellness within workspaces under the National Strategic and Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases for 2013-18. Initiatives such as the guide for physical activity in the workplace have been developed to encourage workplace wellness,” he highlighted.

Findings and recommendations from the National Outlook on Workers’ Health of Jamaica 2017 will be shared at the workshop, and the framework for a National Plan of Action will be developed to include recommendations from workshop participants.

This forms part of deliverables under the Jamaica/WHO Country Cooperation Strategy for 2010-2015 project.

This is being implemented by WHO through the Secretariat of the Global Coordination Mechanism on Non-Communicable Diseases; the PAHO and the WHO Country Office in Jamaica, supported by funds from the Japanese Government.

JIS Social