The African Union Development Agency and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD) in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC), The International Labour Organisation (ILO), East Central and Southern Africa-Health Community (ECSA-HC), Department of Health South Africa, the National Institute for Occupational Health South Africa (NIOH) and OSH-Africa have successfully launched a series of 12 Covid-19 Workplace Response Trainings for all sectors of the economy. The well-received trainings took place from May 18 2020 till July 10 2020, with 2 158 participants joining from 33 countries across Africa.
The overall focus of these trainings was on the implications and management of Covid-19 in the workplace and strengthening Occupational Safety and Health (OSH). The impacts of Covid-19 in the workplace include an increase of man hours for frontline healthcare workers, psychological challenges associated with changes in the way work is done, rising medical costs and the loss of wages. Out of the 12 trainings, the most popular were “Epidemiology and Management of Covid-19 in the Workspace”, followed by “Rational use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during Covid-19”, and “Covid-19 Health Risk Assessment”.
|ILO Occupational Safety and Health Specialist Peneyambeko Alina Munkawa said: “The multi-disciplinary [nature] of managing OSH and the need to solidify the link with public health have started receiving prominent attention. The trainings signify one of Africa’s steps towards addressing challenges and embracing opportunities presented by the pandemic and the future of work.”|
|NIOH Public Health Medicines Specialist Dr Muzimkhulu Zungu said: “The African region’s economy — as the second most populous region in the world — with only 3% of the global GDP is facing a grim future in the face the Covid-19 pandemic.” He thanked AUDA-NEPAD and its partners for ensuring the trainings were context appropriate, pragmatic and timely, and most importantly for contributing to Africa’s Covid-19 OSH information, tools and skills. The overall feedback from the participants was positive; the trainings were frequently described as “informative and insightful”.|
|Participant Efriam Shilongo, Senior Health Programme Officer from the Namibian Ministry of Health and Social Services, thanked AUDA-NEPAD and partners for the trainings, which he described as “excellent” and “expository”. He said: “The discussions stimulated thinking among the healthcare workers, who are the frontline workers in any disease outbreak.”|
Covid-19 OSH guidelines have been developed as reference materials for member states. They are expected to have an overall positive impact on strengthening OSH and labour productivity in member states.
|“Most African countries lack basic organised systems and infrastructure for Occupational Health and Safety; some have fragmented policy guidance responses on PPE, isolation, infection prevention and control,” said AUDA-NEPAD Principal Policy Officer Chimwemwe Chamdimba, who played a lead role in implementing the Covid-19 Workplace Response. “The Covid-19 OSH guidelines aim to address the OSH gaps in Africa. There is a lack of technical guidelines for managing workplace programs such as risk assessment and medical surveillance, and we have also seen gaps in the informal sector which are due to neglect and poor regulation in terms of OSH,” concluded Chamdimba.|
There are a total of six Covid-19 OSH Guidelines which focus on:
- Covid-19/OSH Risk Management Guidelines
- Covid-19/OSH Guidelines for Mining Industry
- Covid-19-19/OSH Guidelines for Occupational Safety and Health and Wellness of Health Workers
- Covid-1919/OSH Guideline for Educational Sector
- Covid-1919/OSH Guidelines for Food and Retail Sector
- Covid-19-19/OSH Clinical Occupational Health Guidelines.
The aim of these guidelines is to help close the OSH gaps and strengthen response capacity in member states during the Covid-19 pandemic.
To download Covid-19/OSH Clinical Occupational Health Guidelines please visit: https://www.nepad.org/publication/african-union-Covid-19-occupational-safety-and-health-guidelines-series