Wednesday, May 27, 2009

An Overview of Occupational Health Research In India

Recent industrialization and globalization are changing the Indian occupational morbidity drastically. Traditionally labor-oriented markets are on change towards more automation and mechanization, at the same time general awareness about occupational safety, occupational and environmental hazards were not spread in the society. This review by R.V. Agnihotram of the University of Montreal's Department of Social and Preventive Medicine offers insights into the prevalence of occupational health disease in India and touches upon the underlying issues of education, government policy, and market influence

With these structural changes the workers in low resources settings are more likely to be affected by the dangers of high technology than their counterparts in developed countries. Due to lack of education, unaware of the hazards of their occupations, general backwardness in sanitation, poor nutrition and climatic proneness of this geographic region to epidemics aggravate their health hazards from work environment

In the Asian continent, India is emerging as the major user of asbestos where the developed world is phasing out its use. Due to poor occupational health and safety systems in India and difficulties in early detection of pulmonary malignancy related to asbestos, the Indian government should consider the ban of this material in the future.

As many as 10 million industrial or mine workers in India may be exposed to asbestos or other dusts at concentrations of health concern

Occupational research is seen as a more complex issue in India, which includes child labor, poor industrial legislation, vast informal sector, less attention to industrial hygiene and poor surveillance data across the country. While India is experiencing an economic transition, occupational research should find a balance between understanding the modern industrial exposures and health risks of traditional sectors like agriculture and plantations. Strategies like modern occupational health legislation, enforcement machinery in sub-district levels, training to health professionals, need for epidemiological evidence and international collaborations were discussed to deal with the situation.