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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Report on the ARAOH/SASOM Congress August 2014

Two years of planning for an African Regional Association of Occupational Health (ARAOH) Congress to be held in Nairobi, Kenya was thwarted at the eleventh hour by unforeseen security risks, resulting in a decision to relocate the Congress to Johannesburg, South Africa.

The groundwork done by the Kenyan Congress Organising Committee and the abstracts received from experts in many countries is appreciated and was built on to present the ARAOH/SASOM Congress from 1-3 August 2014 at the Emperors Palace in Kempton Park near Johannesburg.

A full programme with 49 presentations from 16h00 on 1 August 2014 through to 16h00 on 3 August 2014 had the delegates enthralled. Presenters from Benin, Cameroon, Italy, Korea, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda and the USA, and delegates from Botswana, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe, added an international flavour, and interesting experiences in occupational health were shared.

The President of the International Commission on Occupational Health, Dr Kazutaka Kogi, presented a keynote address on Promoting good occupational health in small-scale workplaces: experiences from international networking, which gave food for thought regarding the many small-scale and informal workplaces in Africa. Prof. Stefano Porru from Italy delivered an excellent paper on health care workers and biohazards, which was followed by a paper on the Mandate and outcomes of the ICOH working group on occupational infectious agents by Prof. Mary Ross and Ms Claudina Nogueira. Prof Lynne Webber gave guidance on the vaccination of workers and Prof Lucille Blumberg discussed Ebola and haemorrhagic fevers. Both presentations were applicable to occupational health services in the changing environment. Two excellent presentations addressed ethics – the first by Prof Leslie London who provided an African perspective of ethics, while Dr Frank Fox emphasized ethics in the workplace. Prof Uwe Reischl from Boise University in the USA discussed a new concept: Solar stress reduction through innovative clothing design which is important for construction and agricultural workers exposed to the hot African sun.

A new SASOM Branch was established during the proceedings and we congratulate Dr Dingani Moyo who initiated the action and was elected Chair of the Zimbabwe Branch of SASOM.

The delegates were highly complimentary to the presenters on the evaluation forms which were completed after each session. We thank them for taking the time to put their thoughts on paper.

Members of the ARAOH Board and the SASOM Executive Committee wish to thank everyone who submitted abstracts, all the presenters and the delegates – many of whom travelled long distances and gave much of their precious time – for their tremendous contribution to the success of the Congress. The efforts of the exhibitors to keep us informed of the products and services that can add value to occupational health services were also appreciated.

Report by Jenny Acutt, ARAOH Interim Secretariat
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