To date the Mahidol-UMass Lowell Centre for Work, Environment, Nutrition and Human Development (CWEND) GEOHealth Hub has focused on the occupational health concerns of workers in health care and in the informal sector, including agriculture.
In Thailand, the informal sector accounts for about 63% of the working population. CWEND collected health questionnaires from over 630 informal sector workers. A few of the key findings are: agricultural workers reported significant exposure to ergonomic risk factors and musculoskeletal symptoms. Pesticides were widely used and farmers showed significant differences in symptoms as well as the types of pesticides and protective practices used based on the type of agricultural crop. Among the stone sculptors ∼ 12% reported an abnormal lung function or chest x-ray result due to the high silica content of the stone used. Among bird cage makers, significant differences were found for MSDs and other health effects by job type. While among salt farmers 15% reported heat cramps, 21% heat rash and 49% heat exhaustion in the past month.
CWEND developed an occupational health questionnaire to collect data from 1100 health care workers in Thailand. A few of the key findings are: health care workers reported significant exposure to ergonomic risk factors and musculoskeletal symptoms, 60% of the nutrition unit experienced a sharp injury and 27% of the surgical unit experienced a needle stick in the past 3 months, while workers in patient care units were more likely to report awareness of a hospital health and safety program, receive training and be provided PPE than non-patient care workers.
Our current focus is on expanding the CWEND-GEOHealth Hub network to other countries and, through our training program, expanding research capacity and initiating research projects that will support data driven policy changes to improve occupational health in the ASEAN region.
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