How can prevention be increased to make it resilient even during crisis?

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Occupational Risks:This was the theme of the debate that took place on the 28th of April 2021,

as part of the joint celebration of the 25th African Day for Occupational Risk Prevention (JAPRP) and the 19th World Day for Safety and Health at Work (JMSST).

Through a webinar, national occupational safety and health stakeholders co-celebrated the JAPRP and the JMSST under the respective themes: "Impact of COVID-19 on the occupational risk prevention activities of national occupational safety and health Institutions in the Interafricaine de la Prévention des Risques Professionnels (IAPRP)" and "Anticipating, preparing for and responding to crises - investing now in resilient occupational safety and health systems". A webinar which gathered more than 55 participants and 4 interventions on the above mentioned themes.

The resiliency of the National Crisis Response Systems around the world has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, it has been noted that, emergency measures taken in companies to fight against the Coronavirus were not efficient due to the lack of company-specific occupational health and safety management systems (SST), as well as the slowdown in preventive activities.

 According to Dr Arlette Bwaka, National Expert in International Labour Law and Representative of the International Labour Office (ILO): " The government shall strengthen national occupational health and safety policies and regulatory framework to better manage crises and emergencies. These include: (i) passing a comprehensive law defining basic SST rights and responsibilities covering all workers and sectors; (ii) laws and regulations covering specific sectors or risks; (iii) collections of practical guidelines and technical standards providing specific guidance; as well as (iv) voting for collective labour agreement".

Following various presentations and debates, recommendations were made to government, the National Social Insurance Fund (NSIF) and the employer’s/worker’s Institutions. As for the government, it must finalise and adopt the National Occupational Health and Safety Policy, donate the occupational health departments (SMT), adopt and implement legislations to promote telework, strengthen the fight against stigma and risks of dismissal due to illness, ask the Ministry of Public Health (Minsante) to implement measures to support and manage the Covid-19 in companies and create a prize for the best CHS at the regional and national level.

 The NSIF shall ask sectoral ministries and institutions to create focal points responsible for monitoring issues related to the social protection of workers in their sectors of activities, continue to support occupational health services in company to manage the Covid-19, work with employer’s and worker’s organisations to implement the SST management and policies systems, create and permanently animate forums according to sectors of activity; and organise virtual meetings in order to act urgently on any type of topic.

As far as employers' Institutions are concerned, they shall ask employers to develop and adopt resilient SST management and policies systems in companies, and ask the government to put in place accompanying COVID-19 measures and care in enterprises as well as raise awareness among employers to integrate occupational health and safety concerns into their code of conduct. Workers' organisations shall raise awareness to comply with SST measures in general and with barrier measures put in place by the employer.

Société Camerounaise de Santé et Sécurité au Travail (SCSST) was not forgotten. It was advised to ask occupational or company doctors to draw up risk maps for the appearance of occupational or work-related diseases. Prevention is everyone's business, and everyone should be involved in.

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