Daily Trust (Abuja)

29 April 2014

Nigeria: 90 Percent of Workers Lack Workplace Health Service

At least nine out of every 10 worker in Nigeria does not have any access at all to health service at their place of work, including those working in hospitals, the health ministry has admitted.

The revelation came as Nigeria marked work safety and health day by focusing on safe use of chemicals in everyday life.

Health minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said occupational health service was not available in "most companies, clinics, retainer hospitals and health facilities."

"Workers in Nigeria form above 49% of the total population and only 5 to 10% of these workers, who are the greatest assets of the nation, have access to occupational health service in spite of evident need at all workplaces," he said in comments delivered by health permanent secretary Linus Awute.

He said the country needed appropriate policies, guidelines, research and ideas to help "bring down tremendously" illnesses or health and medical challenges related to occupational health.

Nationwide, only six states so far have occupational health centres, according to Dr Bridget Okoegulae, director for public health at the federal health ministry.

The trio ministries of health, labour and environment are expected to work closer to raise awareness about occupation-related health and likely workplace dangers, especially involving use of chemicals, said Okoeguale.

More traction on policies regarding occupation health safety are expected from the next National Council on Health, the country's highest policy-making body for health.

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