Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
The quality of occupational health data in Latin America and the Caribbean. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 1999, vol.5, n.1, pp. 66-67. ISSN 1020-4989. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49891999000100020.
Work-related accidents and illnesses cause significant economic and social losses in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, the lack of reliable and systematized data on that situation makes it harder for health authorities and business operators to make decisions and for workers and the general public to take steps to improve working conditions, reduce risks, and prevent those accidents and illnesses. To address that concern, the Program on Workers' Health of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) coordinated the Project on Systematizing Basic Data on Workers' Health in the Countries of the Americas. A report on the project issued in August 1998 contains results, conclusions, and recommendations based on data collected from 10 countries of the Region: Barbados, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. The data were systematized and presented in 42 tables that allowed comparisons among the countries and evaluations of the situation in any one of the countries. Data from countries with adequate record keeping made it clear that many persons work in sectors with high rates of accidents and chronic disease. The research also found it is often hard to analyze trends and changes in labor mortality and morbidity and the conditions that increase the frequency of accidents and occupational diseases. That is because countries and institutions use a variety of approaches to classify, diagnose, and report diseases and occupational injuries, and also frequently modify their criteria. As a follow-up to this research, PAHO is working to compile more specific information on occupational health in the countries of the Region, through an approach that would improve the quality of the information and make it easier to compare the data that is collected.