BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Archive for July, 2017

Occupational health injuries are conditions that result primarily from an accident or exposure to physical, chemical or biological hazards in a work environment, such that the normal physiological or psychological functioning of workers are affected, and health is compromised or impaired. These conditions include any occupational injury for which a worker is entitled to benefits under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act. Occupational injuries are acute and instantly visible personal incidents which differ from occupational diseases, in that diseases are contracted over a period of time due to exposures to risk factors arising from work activities. World Health Organization (WHO) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) considers a disease to be work-related if it has multiple causes, where factors in the work environment play a role, together with other risk factors, in the development of such diseases. Given the period of time it elapses for some disease to be established, it is not always easy to prove that they occurred in the workplace, and subsequently claim associated benefits.

Occupational injury statistics are reported based on the nature or type of Injury, body part affected, source of the injury, type of accident resulting in the injury (for example, fall or burn), the industry in which worker was employed when the accident occurred (for example health or manufacturing), occupation of the injured or worker and personal characteristics of the injured worker such as gender and age. In order to be statistically reported and compensated, an injury must be accepted by a Workers Compensation Board (WCB) or commission as a time loss-loss injury. Some occupational injuries may not be accepted by WCB if they are considered minor-‘first aid only’ or occurred among some work groups that are not covered by WCB (such as the self-employed).

Some examples of occupational injuries include:

  • Physical and mechanical injuries which are the most common types of occupational injuries resulting from accidents. They include falls, sprains, lower back pains, bruises, cuts, lacerations, needle punctures, burns and musculoskeletal disorders
  • Skin disorders caused by exposure to chemicals, irritants, plants or other substances: contact dermatitis, eczema, rash, oil acne; friction blisters and skin inflammation.
  • Respiratory conditions associated with inhaling hazardous biological agents, chemicals, dust, gases, vapors or fumes: silicosis, asbestosis, acute congestion and pharyngitis.
  • Poisoning caused by the ingestion or absorption of abnormal concentrations of toxic substances such as lead, mercury, , arsenic, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, benzene, carbon tetrachloride, formaldehyde and insecticides.

Impacts or costs of occupational injuries are broad and may be direct or indirect. Some impacts may be potential while others may be , depending on the severity of the injury.

  • Direct impacts: These are measurable impacts or costs directly relating to the accident, the injured individual and ways to treat the injury. They are usually covered by the occupational health and safety plan. They include medical, hospitalization, and rehabilitation costs, administrative and legal costs and property damage- being damages caused to the company’s machines, equipment, tools, and other property in the course of the accident.
  • Indirect impacts: These are impacts that are not directly related to the worker, the injury or treatment but rather to the lost opportunities of the injured employee, his family, the employer, the co-workers, and the community at large. In contrast to direct costs, these costs do not involve out-of-pocket expenses, are not usually insured and are more difficult to measure. They include loss of education, career and social interactions, economic impacts of loss of work and worker, productivity losses involving stopping or slowing down of production due to property damage, loss of salary and benefits, limitations workers’ ability to perform household work, impact on the organization’s reputation and human impacts, such as pain, emotional and suffering.

Why is gun violence a global health problem?

Globally, there are over 900 million firearms with most of them belonging to civilians (the public); a number which is approximately 253 million or 29% greater than passenger vehicles. About 8 million guns and 10 to15 billion rounds of bullets are manufactured yearly. The number of bullets manufactured in a year is double the world’s population, meaning that there are more than enough bullets to shoot- and potentially kill, everybody in the world. As many as 1000 people die daily from firearm or gun-related homicide, much more are injured. According to the United Nations (UN), deaths due to guns and firearms surpass that of all other weapons combined. As a matter of fact, some years record more deaths from gun related violence than there were in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. Financially, the legal international trade in firearms and bullets are in the excess of $7.1 billion dollars annually. Apart from the public health trauma and emotional pain of losing so many lives, the economic costs of gun related violence in the United States is $229 billion annually including hospital, court and prison costs.

In the year 2000, the then UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, described the magnitude of the menace and death due to gun violence in these words:

“The death toll from small arms dwarfs that of all other weapons systems — and in most years greatly exceeds the toll of the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In terms of the carnage they cause, small arms, indeed, could well be described as ‘weapons of mass destruction’.” — Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, March 2000”

The facts above point to the fact that gun violence is a costly global health problem that needs to be controlled. This problem is particularly prevalent for so many reasons, but one clearly identified in the 2011 Global Study on Homicide is that it is much more common in countries with low standards of human development, high income inequality and weak regulations and law regarding the sale and use of firearms. In the United States of America for example, an average  of 88 per 100 people own guns, which is the highest gun ownership rate in the world. The second and third countries, Yemen and Switzerland, have a gun ownership rate of 54.8 per 100 people and 45.5 per 100 people respectively. However, it’s not always the country where people have the most guns that have the worst firearm murder rates. For instance, countries such as Iraq, El Salvador and Jamaica are reported to have the highest murder rates due to guns and firearms, even though some reporters believe that the US has the highest.

In more equitable societies with socio-economic stability, there seems to be less occurrences of homicide and gun related violence. Gun control laws and policies are essential to regulate the manufacture, sale, transfer, possession, modification, or use of guns by the public within a country. People against gun control argue that it is a great means of self defense that plays an integral role in one’s protection, others in favor contend that while guns play an important role in protection, they have also caused much destruction. At such, rigorous background checks and investigations are recommendations that should precede the purchase and use of firearms.

References available on request.

Youth violence and other ferocious behaviors such as weapon carrying and fighting, have been associated with early school bullying (Kim et al., (2006). Bullying and being bullied are public health problems and also major risk factors for the later development of psychopathologic behaviors (Kim et. Al, (2006). Through an observation of prospective design, use of large samples and precise analytic approaches, (Kim et al., (2006) showed that many youths are involved in bullying and that there are inherent health  and social problems that result from both being a bully and being bullied.

Prevalent at between 9% and 54%, bullying is a global endemic that requires urgent efforts towards prevention and intervention. In a study involving 1,639 children, (Wolke et al (2001) examined the association of two kinds of bullying, direct (hitting) and relational (cruel manipulation of peer relationships), with common health problems. His findings showed that approximately 4% of the children studied were found to be direct bullies while 10.2%  were relational bullies. He also found that 39.8% of these children were victims and had been bullied. Both bullies and their victims were most likely to have physical health symptoms such as sore throats, colds, and coughs. High psychosomatic health problems including poor appetite and fear of going to school were mostly observed in bullied victims (Wolke et al (2001).

The association between victimization from bullying and adverse effects on physical and psychological health is well documented in literature. However, it remains unclear whether it is the victimization that precedes the health-related symptoms or vice versa. A six-month cohort study with baseline follow-up measurements of 18 elementary schools in the Netherlands showed that victims of bullying were significantly more likely to develop new psychosomatic and psychosocial problems compared to children who were not bullied. On the other hand, some children with existing psychosocial disorders such as depression and anxiety were more likely to experience bullying and victimization. The study involving 1,118 children aged 9 to 11 years, measured a wide variety of psychosocial and psychosomatic symptoms, including depression, anxiety, bedwetting, headaches, insomnia, anorexia and feelings of pressure or fatigue (Fekkes, Minne, et al, (2006).

Because bullying and victimization can result in a variety of health problems and adversely affect  children’s attempts to cope with pre-existing health conditions, it is imperative to educate and empower children with resistant and coping skills. To ensure more children neither become bullies nor bullied, they should be taught these skills at every level in the society including family, school, church and the community at large.


Racism is an ideology and prejudice that directly or indirectly emphasises that one group is inherently superior to another. It is an intentional or unintentional distinction, conduct, action, inaction or predisposition towards people based on their ethnicity and characteristics such as accent or manner of speech, name, clothing, diet, belief and leisure preferences. Being a socially constructed term, racism can prove difficult to define. However, it is easily reflected in racial jokes, slurs, hate crimes, presumptions, attitudes and stereotypical beliefs.  In many cases, these reflections have become unconsciously assimilated over time as true, and have formed systematic, institutional and structural foundations in the societies. Racism can occur at any level including, individual, families and communities, leading to disparities in many areas of life such as health, economy, social class and education, to name a few.

Racism is a major problem because it is very common and affects  lives on a daily basis. Many disparities between ethnic groups can most likely be attributed to racism. A national survey in the United Kingdom (UK) revealed that about 40% of participants would discriminate against ethnic minorities. In 1999, an estimated 282,000 crimes committed in the UK were motivated by racial discrimination. Racism inspires fear in about  one-third of people from ethnic minorities causing them to constrain their lives, thereby stifling their opportunity to contribute fully to the future and growth of their societies.

Some studies have shown an association between racism, morbidity and mortality and that it may be of etiologic importance in the development of illnesses or diseases (McKenzie, K. (2003) Karlsen S, Nazroo J., 2002, Karlsen S, Nazroo J., 2002). Cross sectional studies in the United States show associations between perceived racial discrimination and hypertension, birth weight, self related health, and sick days. Additionally, victims of discrimination were more likely to have respiratory illness, hypertension, long term limiting illness, anxiety, depression, and psychosis in a recent study from the UK. Racial biases and cultural insensitivity among doctors have been linked to poor communication with patients, dissatisfaction with care and decreased global health outcomes. The risk of mental illness was seen to increase in people who believed that most companies were discriminatory. Furthermore, racism may be associated with illness at an ecological level since a 1% increase in racial disrespect in a state in the US was associated with an increase of 350.8 per 100 000 in “black” all cause mortality.

It is important to note that racism, being a social construct with confounders that may not properly be accounted for, is a difficult concept to measure. At such, most the studies done are only secondary analyses, even though it seems well established that discrimination at multiple levels influences health. Furthermore, the different ways that racism is reflected such as through interpersonal violence, institutional discrimination, or socioeconomic disadvantage, have different damaging effects on health, notwithstanding of the health indicator used.

On a final note, the starting point to effectively address racism and racial discrimination is to acknowledge it’s existence, and then fight it through public education and advancement of human rights.

So, if you ever thought, “what on earth racism does racism have to do with health?… now you know, and you’re welcome!

The enduring wealth gap faced by the world today is a public health problem, and a social determinant of health. It is created by income inequality, defined as the unequal and unfair distribution of individual or household income across various contributors in an economy. Statistically, income inequality is described as a ratio of the percentage of an income to a percentage of population. Compared to previous years, the world seems to have become wealthier overall. This may be attributed to the fact that minimum wage increases, it may also be as a result of more people getting educated and therefore, earning more since education has been linked to increase in income.  However, this increase in the world’s wealth does not seem to narrow or close the enduring wealth gap between the rich and the poor. In fact, the gap between rich and poor people continues to widen, creating disparities in all areas of life, notably health.

Since the 80’s, income inequality has been increasing at an obvious rate. At that time, 30 to 35% of national income was going to the top 10% of earners while 90% of earners had the remaining percentage. More recently, the wealth gap has even become more obvious as the percentage of income going to the top 10% has increased to 50%, creating a huge disparity between high earners and low earners. According to Forbes, the 10 richest billionaires in the world own $505 billion in combined wealth, a sum greater than the total goods and services produced annually by most countries. A 2006 study published by the United Nations University’s World Institute for Development Economics Research found that the richest 1% of world are worth at least 39.9% of the world’s household wealth. This amount is a lot greater than the wealth of the world’s poorest 95% combined.

There are many consequences of income inequality and the resulting wealth gap. These consequences are consistent across a broad spectrum of both economic, health, political and social indicators. The impacts of high levels of income inequality exist across and within countries reflecting areas of economic growth, health, social well-being, and political stability, social inequalities. Some of these impacts include: decreased economic growth, increased health and social problems, political instability and social inequalities, especially among children. Needless to say, the poor are usually the ones affected by these consequences as they do not have the power or the position to help themselves. These poor individuals, being deprived may not sufficiently contribute to the economy, further hindering  economic growth and development.

Strengthening labor unions, increasing minimum wage and investing in education are few ways that may reduce income inequality. However, it’ll take years of commitment and consistence from governments of all nations to have a world where income inequality is absent and wealth gap is at the barest minimum.