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Workshop on Occupational and environmental toxicology assessment for epidemiological studies in developing countries

Occupational and environmental health are not considered a priority in many developing countries, so their development has been very scarce. A significant number of people still are significantly exposed to hazardous agents and factors such as physical, chemical, biological, psychosocial risk factors as well as occupational accidents which could affect their health, safety, and well-being. Despite this, there is very little support from governments and lack of opportunity to conduct research deepening on the assessment of exposure-diseases associations and the interaction between the microenvironment(workplace), and the social context. This kind of research may contribute with evidence for decision making and implementation of adequate prevention programs.

One important research limitation in developing countries is the low availability of sensitive and specific laboratory techniques that can be performed at low-infrastructure sites to asses occupational expositions and health outcomes. Moreover, the handling and analysis of biological samples are a big challenge in developing countries or rural areas, because in these scenarios there aren´t adequate and accessible resources and infrastructure to manage this samples in a proper way. This kind of analysis could facilitate, in a more objective way, the evaluation of occupational and environmental exposures, measurement of health status, as well as possible strategies for epidemiological surveillance programs in workers population.

Considering that Maria Teresa Solis Soto (CIH Alumna) coordinated a workshop involving CIH Partner institutions (Universidad del Rosario, Colombia; Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brazil; Alumni Network CIHLMU and Master in International Occupational Safety and Health and other institution of Latinamerica (Universidad de O’Higgins, Chile; Universidad San Francisco Xavier de Chuquisaca, Bolivia. The purpose of the workshop was to strength research skills through the exchange of knowledge in Occupational and environmental toxicology in the scientific community. It will help us to identify and reduce physical, chemical and psychosocial risk factors at work and to preserve the health and well-being of workers. Additionally, the Project fulfilled to the vision of the CIH: “we empower health professionals”. and provided an opportunity to strengthen South-South partnerships and promoting a space for discussion and exchange of knowledge between experts and researchers working in developed and developing countries, taking into account different realities.


Selection of participants: A call for the workshop was launched through the official channels and social networks of the CIH, as well as the professional networks of the CIH-Latin America team. Among the criteria used for the selection of participants were: work experience on the subject, possibility of implementing course content and workshop expectations.

Workshop: The workshop was held from September 12 to 14 in Lima Peru (Hotel Colon, Colon Street corner Fanning). It was attended by 32 professionals from 11 countries participated (Germany, Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru Theoretical and practical activities were developed to address issues on general concepts of toxicology for epidemiological studies, identification and recognition of substances toxic, toxicological databases, information services and regional networks, management of biological samples, network of certified laboratories, direct, passive and active methods for epidemiological studies, regulations on occupational and environmental toxicology, evaluation of the regulatory impact on environmental health and post-exposure interventions and surveillance epidemiological.

Evaluation: The workshop was evaluated in a positive way, for both, teachers and participants (average score of 9/10). Among the best evaluated things were the contents and work dynamics (interactive and practical sessions). Among the things to improve was mentioned the possibility of deepening some content, more practical activities (autonomous methods - case studies), further discussion of group work and considering more time for the event.

In general, the objectives and purposes for the workshop have been met. A network has been established that can strengthen research in occupational and environmental health in Latin America mainly.