Future Of Work Calls For Fundamental Changes

Future Of Work Calls For Fundamental Changes
Apr 2021 , by , in Interviews

Maria Neira (WHO) – Director, Public health and environment, World Health Organization


The role of world organizations in creating awareness and opportunities

WHO and ILO are working together to develop a joint methodology and estimates of the health impacts of occupational risks based on the WHO burden of disease studies and ILO labour statistics. Such a methodology will allow us to assess and forecast the health impacts of changes in the labour force composition in the future of work. Such changes may bring about new opportunities for improving the health of 3.5 billion working people and their families. A healthier workforce is an essential prerequisite for a brighter future of work and for a more sustainable development.

What are the various initiatives?

WHO is working with countries to extend universal health coverage to 1 billion more people. The most basic interventions and services for safer and healthier workplaces need to be accessible for workers in all forms of employment, including in the informal economy, precarious employment, migrant workers and digital platforms. It is at the workplace where the Universal Health Coverage, the global goal of the WHO, and the Universal Labour Guarantee, proposed by the ILO Global Commission, can make a visible difference in the daily life of working people and their facilities, by connecting access to preventive, curative and rehabilitative health services to the right of all workers to health and safety at work. Health and labour policy makers need to join efforts to make this happen.

Measures to prevent viral diseases at work

Globally, the proportion of people suffering from non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, respiratory, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and mental ill-health, is increasing. In the future, working people will work with several chronic diseases. Therefore, as part of the measures to stop this epidemic, the Third High Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases, held in September 2018 at the UN General Assembly called for providing healthy and safe working conditions, tobacco free workplaces, wellness initiatives and improving health coverage of workers. 

We have an ongoing collaboration with ILO and OECD on the future of health employment and inclusive economic growth and would like to see working conditions in the health sector to become more decent and more attractive for young people. The new jobs in the health sector need to be decent. This requires healthy and safe workplaces for everyone, everywhere – from hospitals to primary care, in cities, villages and fragile settings, and anytime – in daily work, and in public health emergencies.

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