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Challenges of Workers' Health in the Region of the Americas

Maritza Tennassee, M.D. PAHO

There is currently a global consensus on the importance of workers' health as a key element for the equitable development and social and economic well being of human beings. Recognition of the importance of the sustainable development model has renewed concern in international and regional forums, as well as the countries, about the situation of workers' health and the need to improve it.

The 23rd Pan American Sanitary Conference (1990) adopted Resolution CSP23.R14 on workers' health, urging the Member States to increase the development of different institutional workers' health care arrangement in order to promote the attainment of universal coverage and requesting the Director of PASB to support the initiative. Thus, workers' health has been included in the Strategic and Programmatic Orientations for PASB, 1999-2002.

The situation analysis of workers' health in the countries of the Region reveals major economic and social inequities in the labor sector, as well as a significant institutional vacuum at both the international and national level when it comes to addressing the problem of workers' health, particularly in the informal sector.

Responding to this situation, PAHO took the initiative and structured its technical cooperation activities in workers' health around an integrated, multisectoral, and participatory preventive approach. The result was the preparation of the Regional Plan on Workers' Health, which includes cooperation activities at the regional, subregional, and country level. The Plan has been conceived as a frame of reference and orientation that will enable the actors in the field of workers health to operate with a common perspective, permitting synchronized country and international cooperation activities and optimum use of the available resources on behalf of the countries.