The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to develop national programme for asbestos-related diseases

The WHO Country Office, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and the Institute of Occupational Health (WHO Collaborating Centre for Occupational Health) held a workshop on the implementation of the global action plan on worker's health on 21 May 2015. The aim of the workshop was to initiate the process of development of a national programme for elimination of asbestos-related diseases, and development of a platform for further intersectoral and multidisciplinary action in this area.

Participants in the workshop were representatives from the Ministry of Health, the Institute of Occupational Health, National Council for Safety and Health at Work, Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, National Public Health Institute, State Labor Inspectorate, Macedonian Occupational Safety and Health Association, employers and employees organizations, and nongovernmental organizations.

The key issues discussed included:

  • exposure to asbestos in the living environment;
  • adverse health effects of exposure to asbestos;
  • current legislation to minimize the risks of occupational exposure to asbestos; and
  • WHO/International Labour Organization (ILO) methodology for the development of a national programme for elimination of asbestos-related diseases.

During the workshop, participants highlighted the need to promote action and take appropriate measures, as well as to raise awareness among policy-makers and in the general population. Issues related to asbestos removal were also discussed; training and education for health care practitioners in detecting and reporting asbestos-related diseases should be introduced to track the link between exposure and disease and to gather proper data.

Next steps

Based on the conclusions of the workshop, the Institute of Occupational Health will develop the first draft of the national programme for elimination of asbestos-related diseases, expected to be finalized by the end of 2015. The programme's activities will be shared with the South East European Network on Workers' Health according to the Bucharest Statement principles, supported by the WHO European Centre for Environment and Health in Bonn, Germany.

WHO will continue to support implementation of activities in this area in the country as part of the National Health 2020 Strategy, and as part of the biennial collaborative agreement 2014–2015 between WHO and the Ministry of Health.

Background

In 2010, the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health held in Parma, Italy, adopted the Parma Declaration on Environment and Health. In the Declaration's fourth Regional Priority Goal, to prevent diseases caused by the chemical, biological and physical environments, countries committed themselves to develop national programmes for the elimination of asbestos-related diseases by 2015, in collaboration with WHO and ILO.