West African Research and Training Hub on Environmental and Occupational Health in the Informal Economy
This project will help establish a West African Global Environmental and Occupational Health (GEO Health) Hub in environmental and occupational health. It will aim to enhance regional capacity and leadership for world-class research, training, and innovation to address national and regional health priorities. The hub will also inform policy development. Hazards in the informal economy Sub-Saharan Africa's informal economy contributes over half of the region's gross domestic product and supports 80% of the workforce. In West Africa, nine in 10 workers have informal jobs in economic activities related to agriculture, mining, transport, trade, and commerce. Many are regularly exposed to multiple environmental and occupational health hazards. There is little research or documentation related to the associated health risks and disease burdens, as well as a lack of scientific evidence to guide prevention and mitigation. To improve opportunities for better livelihoods in this vast economic sector, fast and sustained improvement in health and safety is critical. Research and training hub for West Africa This project will establish the hub under the Global Environmental and Occupational Health initiative led by the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health in collaboration with Canada's International Development Research Centre. The hub leverages existing strengths across Francophone and Anglophone countries. It is founded on a long-standing partnership between the University of Ghana and the University of Michigan. It brings together a group of African and Canadian institutions, including: -Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology -Ghana's Ministry of Health -McGill University -Ecohealth Community of Practice for West and Central Africa (spanning Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, and Senegal) -University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa Environmental and occupational health research The hub will enhance regional capacity for world-class research in environmental and occupational health in the informal sector. It will also build African leadership to guide national and regional policies for reducing environmental and occupational health hazards. The initial research focuses on documenting and reducing health threats associated with processing electronic waste (e-waste), small-scale gold mining, and air pollution impacts from the informal transport sector. All three economic activities produce significant levels of environmental contamination and pose elevated health risks to highly vulnerable workers in the informal sectors and their families.