WONCA Special Interest Group: Workers Health

Workers Health

A new WONCA Special Interest Group on Workers Health was approved by the WONCA World Council in November 2016. Membership is open to interested family doctors. 


Health and work are intimately linked, as formulated in the WONCA - ICOH Statement (Lisbon, 2014). Poor health, injuries and disabilities prevent many from working at full capacity or from working at all. Having no work is a risk in itself for health and wellbeing, for not having an income, poverty for the family, a less purposeful life, and social isolation.

WONCA, the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH), WHO and others recognize that basic elements of workers’ health care, including preventive services, is or could be provided in primary care settings. An important reason is the coverage of 70-80% of the global population by primary health care, while only 10-15% of the global workforce is covered by expert-based occupational health services. Further advantages of primary health care are the trust of workers in it, and the location close to where people live, or work. Therefore the challenge is to provide basic forms of occupational health care in primary care, in collaboration with expert-based occupational health services or with new forms of support by occupational health experts, online information and referral facilities in hospitals. Read more

WONCA / ICOH Pledge on Workers' Health

The World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA) and the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH) pledge to work with our partner organizations (including WHO and ILO) to address the gaps in services, research, and policies for the health and safety of workers and to better integrate occupational health in the primary care setting, to the benefit of all workers and their families.

Convenor / Chair

Dr Carolina Jara Pinochet (Chile)

More information coming soon

Co-Convenor or other office bearers


Executive Members

Membership Open?

Vision and Mission of WONCA SIG on Workers Health

to identify collaborative ventures regarding gaps in services, education, research and policies for the health and safety of workers and to better integrate occupational health in PHC settings.

Objectives of the WONCA SIG on Workers Health

  • Collecting and promoting country experiences, including scientific evaluation
  • Developing Basic Occupational Health education & training programs for PHC professionals
  • Collecting and writing (scientific) articles and policy considerations
  • Organizing a work conference in 2017 or 2018 on basic workers’ health care in PHC settings
  • Organising SIG meetings during WONCA- and ICOH Congresses
  • Identifying financial resources to support developments
  • Developing an SIG email Group for enhancing communication between members
  • Developing and promoting SIG activities through social networks
  • Various publications in preparation, 2016 -2017
  • Inputs planned to ICOH World Congress in Dublin; 2018

Publications & Documents

Peter Buijs & Frank van Dijk. Primary Health Care and feasible interventions on Workers’ Health
2017 presentation at Rio world conference

Zorayda Leopando Roles of FPs in integration of primary care ad occupational medicine
2017 presentation APR conference


Relevant recent activities:

OH included as a topic by WWP on the Environment at WONCA World conference in Cancun (2010).
The Hague Meeting “Connecting Health and Labour” in 2011, where WONCA was represented.
Joint WONCA-WHO Workshop: Case studies in environment and health in family medicine: “Occupational Health outreach.” In the WONCA World Conference in Prague (2013).
Publications on primary health care and workers’ health (2012, 2014, 2016)A series of contributions about workers’ health in WONCA News online (2014, 2015)
WONCA presentation at Workshop on workers’ health (ICOH World Congress, Seoul, 2015)
Sessions on Education for basic occupational health in agriculture, Euripa-WONCA/ICOH collaboration, Lodi, Italy; September 2015
Common WONCA-ICOH Session on workers’ health, WONCA Europe, Istanbul; October 2015
Participation at the 4th WONCA Iberoamericana-CIMF Conference held in Montevideo, Uruguay 2015. Session on Health and Environment.
Participation in the book Family Doctors in the Field (Asbestosis; Mobile Primary Care Clinic)
Workshop on workers’ health at WONCA World Conference, Rio de Janeiro; November 2016
Various publications in preparation, 2016 -2017
Inputs planned to ICOH World Congress in Dublin; 2018

WONCA is also engaged with WHO, especially via Dr Ivan Ivanov. Richard Roberts and others represented WONCA at the first WHO World Conference on PHC andWorkers’ Health (The Hague, 2011) , at a follow-up Conference (Geneva, 2012) and by developing of OH training modules (2016). Dr Garth Manning represented WONCA at a WHO Workshop in Seoul (2015) and Bangkok (2016).


A growing number of activities involving WONCA and ICOH have been developed during the last decade. The WONCA Europe conference (Kos, 2005) can be seen as a starting point, when Prof van Weel invited Dr Buijs (ICOH) to present studies about PHC and Work, the presentations of Prof van Weel during the ICOH Centennial (Milan, 2006) and later many other WONCA and ICOH speakers followed at each other’s Conferencees (Van Weel, Svab, Roberts, Van Dijk, Lopez and Manning).

This has led to a growing mutual understanding and trust, and since the WONCA World Conference in Prague (2013) to regular meetings between representatives of WONCA and ICOH. A landmark was the common WONCA ICOH Statement and Pledge (WONCA Europe, Lisbon, 2014).

Meetings between WONCA and ICOH representatives in Seoul and Istanbul (2015) confirmed interest in a WONCA SIG. Finally an SIG on Workers’ Health was established during the WONCA World Council meeting in Rio in 2016. Now, we are prepared to organize a work conference on how to develop basic forms of occupational health care in PHC. We will invite representatives of pioneering countries for a mutual exchange of experiences, conditions for success and educational approaches.