1) Viral infections, such as chickenpox that starts much like the flu with fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, aches and pains, and headaches, commonly make an appearance. Chickenpox, like all infections, is contagious, and therefore proactive measures to spot, isolate and treat cases are critical to prevent the virus from spreading.
2) Eye infections and irritations are another regular complaint among labourers working in dusty and sandy environments that can severely affect the eyes. Infections can easily be transferred through rubbing the eyes and contact via machines and tools. Using protective eyewear, washing eyes periodically, as well as applying eye lubricants can reduce the incidence of such conditions.
3) Pre-diabetes glucose intolerance tends to be high among the working population, including the younger workforce. This can be attributed to the quality of the food the workers consume and the lack of exercise owing to their long work days.
4) Issues like high cholesterol, which can cause blockages in arteries, can also be mitigated through proper diet and exercise. Workers from Asian countries have narrower arteries, and the situation is compounded by the cultural diet and lifestyle choices that put this population at great risk of health complications.
Employers can play a key role in improving employee health through providing access to sports facilities in residential labour camps. In the long run, this will significantly enhance the workers’ quality of life while reducing the cost burden on the healthcare system – benefiting the insurer, the employer and the workers themselves.
Organising health talks and video screenings, creating green spaces, facilitating access to exercise equipment in community areas, and reaching out to the workers through WhatsApp and SMS are prime examples of low-cost interventions that can help bring about lasting behavioural change with a positive impact on worker health while drastically cutting healthcare expenses.
Role of Private Sector
The private sector can play an important role in delivering preventive healthcare. Understanding the unique challenges and complexities facing blue-collar workers in the UAE and the wider region makes it possible to deliver innovative solutions. Recognising the potential, the government, employers, insurers and healthcare providers can collaborate on implementing cost-effective preventative measures.
Prevention leads to fewer hospital visits, better attendance records at work, managed insurance cost burden and improved ability of the workers to support themselves and their loved ones. Collectively, these interventions translate into a healthier, happier, more productive workforce and bring manifold benefits to businesses, insurers and the government.
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