COVID-19 Workplace Response Trainings a Success

The African Union Development Agency- NEPAD (AUDA-NEPAD) in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC), The International Labour Organisation (ILO), East Central and Southern Africa-Health Community (ECSA-HC), Department of Health South Africa, the National Institute For Occupational Health South Africa and OSH-Africa, successfully launched a series of 12 COVID-19 Workplace Response Trainings for all sectors of the economy. The well received trainings took place from 18 May 2020 till 10 July 2020 with over 2158 participants joined the trainings from 33 countries across Africa.

The overall focus of these trainings was on the implications and management of COVID-19 in the workplace and strengthening Occupational Safety and Health (OSH). Impacts of COVID-19 in the workplace range from an increase of man hours for frontline Health Care Workers, psychological challenges associated with changes in the way work is done, as well as an increase in medical cost and loss of wages. Out of the 12 popular trainings, the top 3 most attended trainings were “Epidemiology and Management of COVID-19 in the Workspace”, followed by “Rational use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during COVID-19”, and “COVID-19 Health Risk Assessment”.

ILO Occupational Safety and Health Specialist Ms Peneyambeko Alina Munkawa said, “The multi-disciplinary in managing OSH and the need to solidify the link with public health started receiving prominent attention. The trainings signify one of Africa’s steps towards addressing challenges and embracing opportunities presented by the pandemic and the future of work” she stated.

“The African region’s economy - as the second most populous region in the world - with only 3% of the global GDP is facing a grim future in the face the COVID-19 pandemic,” said NIOH Public Health Medicines Specialist Dr Muzimkhulu Zungu. He thanked AUDA-NEPAD and its partners for ensuring the trainings were context appropriate, pragmatic and timely, and most importantly for contributing to Africa’s COVID-19 OSH information, tools and skills. The overall feedback from 2158 participants was overall positive, the trainings were mostly described as “informative and insightful”.

Participant Mr Efriam Shilongo, Senior Health Programme Officer from the Namibian Ministry of Health and Social Services, thanked AUDA-NEPAD and partners for the trainings which he described as “excellent” and “expository”, continuing to say that the “the discussions stimulated thinking about the health care workers who are the frontline worker in any diseases outbreak.”

COVID-19 OSH guidelines have been developed as reference materials for Member States. They are expected to have an overall positive impact on strengthening OSH and labour productivity in member states.

“Most African countries lack basic organized systems and infrastructure for Occupational Health and Safety, some have fragmented policy guidance responses on PPE, Isolation, infection prevention and control,” said AUDA-NEPAD Principal Policy Officer Ms Chimwemwe Chamdimba who played a lead role in implementing the COVID-19 Workplace Response. “The COVID-19 OSH guidelines aim to address the OSH gaps in Africa, there is a lack of technical guidelines for managing workplace programs such as risk assessment and medical surveillance, we have also seen gaps in the informal sector which are due to neglect and poor regulation in terms of OSH,” concluded Ms Chamdimba.

There are a total of 6 COVID-19 OSH Guidelines which focus on;

(i) COIVD-19/OSH Risk Management Guidelines (ii) COIVD-19/OSH Guidelines for Mining Industry, (iii) COIVD-19/OSH Guidelines for Occupational Safety and Health and Wellness of Health Workers ,(iv) COIVD-19/OSH Guideline for Educational Sector, (v) COIVD-19/OSH Guidelines for Food and Retail Sector, (vi) COIVD-19/OSH Clinical Occupational Health Guidelines.

The aim of these guidelines is to help close the OSH gaps and strengthen response capacity in member states in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.To download COIVD-19/OSH Clinical Occupational Health Guidelines please visit:

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