Director, ICMR-NIOH Ahmedabad

From Director's Desk

Occupational health care authority is supposed to take care of health and safety issues at various workplaces with a strong focus on primary prevention component of occupation related diseases & injuries. The major occupational diseases/morbidity of concern in India are silicosis, musculo-skeletal injuries, coal workers' pneumoconiosis, chronic obstructive lung diseases, asbestosis, byssinosis, heavy metal poisoning, pesticide poisoning and noise induced hearing loss etc.
Earlier researches conducted by ICMR-NIOH with its two regional centres explored the magnitude of many of the above-mentioned problems and their possible determining factors such as age, sex, long working duration, low salary, lack of appropriate workplace policies, lack of health promotional activities, lack of early detection measures, lack of personal as well as general protective devices and unsafe working conditions etc.
We have an estimated annual incidence of occupational disease in India between 924,700 and 1902,300 and deaths to be 121,000 (Source: Leigh J, Macaskill P, Kuosma E, Mandryk J. Global burden of disease and injury due to occupational factors. Epidemiology 1999;10: pp 626–631).
Some of the major challenges in this field are:

  • A huge workforce working in the unorganised sectors & belonging to under-privileged community
  • People are forced to continue their work even after suffering, which often worsens the situation
  • Most are in small or household set up and without having much access to their minimum health facilities
  • Lack of facilities for early detection of silicosis & tuberculosis
  • Inadequate implementation of existing legislation;
  • Lack of reliable occupation health & safety related data;
  • Shortage of occupation, health & safety professionals;
  • Multiplicity of statutory controls;
  • Apathy of stakeholders; and infrastructure problems
  • Pesticide exposure in agricultural workers
  • Heavy metal poisoning in metal factories
  • Air pollution through emissions caused by automobiles & industries and consequent adverse health effects

ICMR-NIOH & its regional centers have their continuous efforts to find the best possible solutions towards above issues through multi-disciplinary researches & capacity building of health care giving professionals. It also attempts to generate data (national/regional) on various occupational health related issues, which could be used by national & international agencies for formulating appropriate policy & developing suitable strategies for their effective control. Because of significant contribution, ICMR-NIOH is also recognized by WHO as WHO collaborating center for occupational diseases in South East Asia. ICMR-NIOH also does have collaboration with International Labour Organisation (ILO) and both are working together to improve the national scenario of occupation related diseases & injuries. 

Lastly, we are open to any kind of suggestion/s, comment/s, constructive criticism/s that would help us further to improve our activities towards above-said issues.