The birth of OSHAfrica

REPORT

 

‘Africa has no data’. This has repeatedly been said in occupational safety and health (OSH) circles: at the 2014 XX World Congress on Safety and Health at Work in Frankfurt, at the 2015 International Congress on Occupational Health (ICOH) in Seoul, and more recently at the 2016 International Conference on Occupational Safety & Health (TIOSH) held in Istanbul, and the 2017 XXI World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, held in Singapore.

To address this issue, we started our journey towards the creation of OSHAfrica. During ICOH 2015, we convened a meeting of African delegates to reflect on how we could strengthen the continent’s contribution to occupational health. The key focus areas we identified were inter-continental collaboration, information sharing, and publishing in peer-reviewed journals. There was a lull in our efforts after we returned home to our busy schedules. However, in 2016/2017 we reached out to colleagues for whom we had contact details and formed a WhatsApp group, which we named OSHAfrica. Initially, the group had only 16 members but today it has more than 170 members representing 32 African countries.

 

Mr Ehi Iden, Coordinator and Member of the OSHAfrica Board of Trustees

 

In 2017, OSHAfrica was registered as a legal entity. The vision of OSHAfrica is to create an enabling, collaborative working environment for African OSH professionals, where increased information sharing will dilute the silo effects of isolation. This includes translating research outcomes into practice, by using the available information to support African regional OSH policies and legislation. OSHAfrica also seeks to promote the development of OSH competencies within Africa, thus scaling up existing knowledge bases and developing new ones. This is possible through OSHAfrica’s professional collaborations with other OSH groups across the globe. The knowledge will be shared in our work with institutions in Africa to develop and improve OSH departments and training curricula, ensuring that members have access to affordable, high quality training and certification platforms. 

OSHAfrica is led by a gender-balanced Board of Trustees with representation from most regions of Africa. The Trustees are responsible for providing inspired leadership to the membership of OSHAfrica, ensuring that policies and decisions are in line with the realities of OSH in Africa, and that the improvement of workplace safety and health across the continent is prioritised. The Board Members are experienced and passionate practitioners, and include four occupational health physicians, three OSH practitioners, and a chemist:

  Mr Ehi Iden (CEO, Occupational Health and Safety Managers, Nigeria)

• Dr Minha Rajput-Ray (Born and grew up in Kenya. Medical Director, NNEdPro, Global Centre for Nutrition and Health, Cambridge, United Kingdom)

 Dr Dingani Moyo (OSH consultant; Midlands State University; National University of Science and Technology, Zimbabwe)

 Ms Hanan M. F. Elnagdy (OSH specialist, Ministry of Manpower, Egypt)

 Mr Charles B. Odhiambo (Ministry of Labour, Kenya)

 Dr Thuthula Mandisa Balfour (Chamber of Mines, South Africa)

• Dr Ahmed Elsheikh (Born in Egypt. Director of Quality and Patient Safety at Security Forces Hospital, Makkah, Saudi Arabia)

  Ms Emily Esenam Akumah (Independent OSH consultant, Ghana).

Our website www.oshafrica.africa went live on 31 January 2018, after three years of hard work. This development has been hailed and welcomed by fellow Africans and the international OSH community, including the European Network Education and Training in Occupational Safety and Health (ENETESH), DGUV Germany, and the Partnership for European Research in Occupational Safety and Health (PEROSH).

In 2018, all African OSH professionals are encouraged to register and become members of OSHAfrica. This can be done online at http://www.oshafrica.africa/registration/.

Having a database of OSH professionals will enable us to connect them across the continent, and profile members according to their core areas of expertise. Currently membership is free, but we envisage introducing a paid subscription from 2019.

OSHAfrica also plans to host an international conference in 2019. This will probably be in South Africa, and discussions are under way to confirm this.

Africa now has a global OSH voice – proof that we can do anything when we are commited. OSHAfrica is not about a country, it is about the African continent.

You can follow us on Twitter – @osh_africa, Facebook – OSHAfrica, or visit our website – www.oshafrica.africa.

 

Report by:

 Mr Ehi Iden

Coordinator and Member of the OSHAfrica Board of Trustees

CEO, Occupational Health and Safety Managers, Nigeria

e-mail: ehi@ohsm.com.ng

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