Increasing Access to Health Information at the Workplace: One Step to Delivering on SDG #3 in Global Supply Chains
“We can’t get any.”
“We ran out.”
“We don’t know where to find them.”
These are common responses by factory nurses and managers when asked if they have health education materials available for their workers in low and middle income countries.
This is an easily fixable problem for many formal workplaces around the world—if we avoid the typical and unsustainable approach of paying print shops to produce colorful, glossy documents. Workplaces have the necessary resources—desktop printers and internet connections—to make health information available at a low cost, based on immediate need. Meeting this need would help advance progress to Sustainable Development Goal #3—Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
That is why the Evidence Project has launched a package of health information materials, together with Bayer, designed specifically for the workplace context. Many workplaces usually depend on local public health departments or NGO partners for materials and when supplies run out, it is difficult to obtain more. Even if workplaces can find them on online, most health education materials are designed for high production value and in color, so they do not print out clearly on desktop printers and use lots of costly ink.
The newly available materials are designed not only to be accessible to corporations and their supplier companies via the internet, but also to print clearly and attractively on a desktop printer in black and white. Most workplaces that export to the global economy must have an internet connection and printers in order to do business; the goal is to use these common IT resources to help improve worker health. The Evidence Project partnership with Bayer will also be making these materials mobile-friendly for smart phones, as nurses and health care workers in low and middle income countries are increasingly accessing information through their mobile phones.
These materials focus on several health issues facing workers, particularly women workers, including:
- Reproductive health and family planning
- Menstrual hygiene
- Male engagement in family health
Access to health information is important to improving workers’ health knowledge and their use of health services. For the millions of women in the workforce, providing information on family planning methods, the healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies, and menstrual hygiene and management can empower them to understand their bodies better and gain more control over the decision of when and how many children to have.
These educational materials offer a tool to reinforce the efforts of workplace doctors, nurses, and occupational health staff to disseminate health knowledge to workers and promote good health practices. Making health information easily accessible to workers through existing IT resources is one way multinational corporations can play a role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
This package of health information materials is currently available in English, Bengal, and Swahili (Kenya) for corporations to use with their supply chains. The messages were developed by adapting existing health education messages and materials, and were then field tested to ensure that they are understandable and culturally appropriate.
Companies can make these materials available for use by their supplier companies in several ways:
- Ensure doctors, nurses, and other health care staff have materials to hand out to workers as part of their health promotion and education.
- Integrate materials into existing training programs on women’s health or occupational health and safety.
- Use them as part of monthly or quarterly health promotion campaigns on important health topics.
- Place materials, as appropriate, on walls and bulletin boards around the workplace to reinforce health messages.
The materials are currently available online at http://evidenceproject.popcouncil.org/resource/health-education-materials-for-the-workplace/.
Corporations, business associations, or NGOs that are committed to using these materials in their workplace activities may also contact the partners to make these materials available on their own websites. In the next year, the partnership will translate the materials into other languages.