The Pan American Occupational and Environmental Health Conference, held in Rio de Janeiro from 26 to 29 September 2018, was suggested by the National Association of Occupational Medicine (Associação Nacional de Medicina do Trabalho — ANAMT) to contribute to increase the knowledge on occupational and environmental health, as well as to promote interaction among associations and professionals within the Pan American axis.
In the stage of preparation of the Conference — organized by ANAMT, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) and the Latin American Association of Occupational Health — the organizers suggested including a round table on regional public policies in the program.
However, soon it became clear that this subject deserved more time and visibility. For this reason, for the very first time in our region, a parallel event — the Forum on Public Policies on Occupational Health — was established. Organized by Dr. Igor Bello, Dr. Viviana Gomez and Dr. Elizabeth Diaz, the Forum took place on 26 September, with the support of the Conference organizers, and the support and participation of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH) and International Occupational Medicine Society Collaborative (IOMSC).
Despite the short time available to plan the Forum, and limited financial resources, regional government and professional institutions and agencies soon became involved, resulting in the participation of 16 countries.
The first part of the Forum included presentations by representatives of the various countries on their public policies and hindrances met. In the second part regional proposals were discussed. Issues which called all the participants’ attention were the regional effects of economic crisis, with negative impact on the world of word, and the wide diversity among the participating countries.
To make the insights and proposals resulting from this first Pan American meeting visible, Manifesto of Rio de Janeiro was prepared, read and signed at the end of the Conference. The Manifesto is now published in English, Portuguese and Spanish in Revista Brasileira de Medicina do Trabalho.
Among the consensuses achieved in the Forum, one concerns the need to maintain the commitment to mobilize regional social actors (governments, workers and their representatives, employers, universities and professional associations, among others) to engage and search for solutions to the problems derived from the lack of (in many countries), or improve (where available) public policies focusing on occupational health.
The participants and supporting institutions assumed a commitment to establish mechanisms to ensure ongoing dialogue, mutual support and exchange experiences including all the countries in the Americas.
The Forum was a milestone in occupational health, and succeeded in its goal of “gathering people and exchanging experiences” — i.e., the Conference motto.
I would like to thank the organizers for their outstanding work, and the enthusiastic and collaborative participation of all.
Please, read and disseminate the Manifesto.