Global challenges of health in the workplace

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PLoS Translational Global Health
Translational Global Health facilitates the translation of findings from basic science to practical applications in Global Health practice and, thus, meaningful health outcomes for diverse populations and societies. Translational Global Health is an independent blog on the PLOS BLOGS Network, focusing on the field, concepts and challenges of Global Health. Dr Alessandro Demaio and his team of regular guest bloggers bring honest, pragmatic discussion – with a special interest in Non-Communicable Disease and Global Health 2.0. PLoS Translational GH Blog content is shared via GHhub with permission.

Over 54% of the world’s population live in urban areas, and over the next decade the growth of cities is expected to be greatest in Africa – the part of the world currently the least covered by workplace health. If we get this right, the potential to improve human wellbeing is vast. Evidence of the effectiveness of workplace health (or ‘wellness’) programmes is often unclear, and in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) the evidence is particularly thin. I have recently been investigating workplace health in LMICs* – desk research and a series of key informant interviews (India, China, South Africa, Brazil and Argentina) – and, while many of the challenges are problems for workplaces everywhere, they are often more acute in lower-income countries. A 2016 survey of 430 organisations found that the top three workplace-health issues globally are all related to non-communicable diseases (NCDs): poor nutrition, physical inactivity and stress.

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Global challenges of health in the workplace