Workers wellness means national prosperity – Dr Cummings

GEORGETOWN, MOPH – WORKERS wellness means national prosperity and healthcare workers must constantly research new ways to “protect, preserve and enhance” their wellbeing said Minister within the Ministry of Public Health Dr Karen Cummings Monday.

Cummings drew the connection between the state of workers’ health and the good fortune of the national treasury while delivering the keynote address at the opening of a five-day workshop for occupational safety and health (OSH) specialists organised jointly between the MOPH and PAHO/WHO at Cara Lodge Hotel in the capital city.

Dr Karen Cummings delivering her Keynote address.

“It is an indisputable fact that a healthy population positively impacts on the wealth of a nation, therefore health workers must constantly seek ways to further protect, preserve, and enhance the health and wellbeing of our citizens in every sphere of life,” Minister Cummings told participants drawn from the MOPH Environmental Health Department from the 10 Administrative Regions; the Standards and Technical Services and National Blood Transfusion Services (NBTS) also from the Public Health Ministry.

Participants also came from the Ministry of Social Protection (MOSP); the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC); the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA); the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and various Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs).

Facilitators of the workshop will focus OSH matters linked to hazard recognition, basic interventions in workers’ universal health coverage and the identification of occupational diseases.

Guyana’s OSH legislation is quite comprehensive and “while our focus at the Ministry of Public Health is more health related, it will be instructive that you formulate tangible solutions” to some of the industrial jeopardies workers face, Dr. Cummings said in her address.

She challenged facilitators and beneficiaries of the 5-day event to come up with “more refined policies to significantly protect our workers from avoidable workplace injuries, medical illnesses, and fatalities. Collectively, let us aim to have safer, healthier work spaces throughout Guyana”

WHO’s Dr Julietta Rodriquez Guzman, Regional Advisor on Workers and Consumers Health, Special Program on Sustainable Development

Dr Julietta Rodriquez Guzman.

and Health Equity from World Health Organisation, and a number of local counterparts from the PAHO Guyana office will facilitate the training ending Friday.

PAHO/WHO Representative here Dr. William Adu Krow in his brief remarks at the opening ceremony outlined the goals and objectives of the programme which are to: introduce the WHO Global action plan on workers’ health for 2017-2018 and the PAHO action plan on workers’ health and to present the outline to establish a national outlook for workers’ health as the basis for developing a national action plan for workers’ health for Guyana.

The other goals of the 5-day OSH training are to provide the basic training for occupational disease as the key element for progress and to provide training for workers in industrial health and universal health coverage with basic intervention and strengthening capacity to developing healthy work environment, Dr. Adu Krow said.

He wants a symmetry between rhetoric and behaviour among employers and workers on OSH issues.

“Don’t let us talk the talk but walk the walk” the PWR emphasised challenging both groups to do the right thing.

Cummings expanded on Dr Adu Krow’s call to “do the right thing” by reminding the workshop that it’s this desire which motivated the government to table the Tobacco Bill 2017 last week by Public Health Minister, Volda Lawrence. When it becomes law, smoking will be banned in indoor public places and advertising cigarettes will be outlawed here.

“This piece of legislation will significantly reduce the exposure of our citizens to tobacco smoke. As simple as that sounds, banning indoor smoking will immediately create a plethora of safe spaces. The reduction in the exposure of our citizens to harmful secondhand tobacco smoke will surely in a large measure preserve their lungs and ultimately their lives, especially since research has conclusively revealed that tobacco kills”, Dr. Cummings said.

Participants at Monday’s OSH training workshop.