Air Pollution: A Tsunami in Nigeria

Air pollution is one of the biggest threats for the environment and affects everyone: humans, animals, crops, cities, forests, aquatic ecosystems. Here today we are going to look  in deep the causes, present air pollution rate in Nigeria and the most importantly, what are the possible solutions to tackle this treat to nature caused by the inhabitants of the earth?

Let’s begins with this; Water, I mean water. Yes, it is no longer enough simply to kill the bacteria contained in a water in order to make it drinkable, since the pollution produced by man has altered the very chemical composition of the natural water supply.


In 1392 King Charles VI of France published an edict that outlawed the emission of foul smelling gases in Paris.

Still on the agenda

A pollution effect.

Air pollution is caused by the presence in the atmosphere of toxic substances, mainly produced by human activities, even though sometimes it can result from natural phenomena such as volcanic eruptions, dust storms and wildfires, also depleting the air quality.

Nigeria produces more than 3 million tons of waste annually, and uncontrolled waste burning is one of the practices that contribute to deteriorating air quality. Almost every Nigerian is exposed to air pollution levels exceeding WHO guidelines and inflicting significant air pollution damage costs.

Air pollution was responsible for about a million premature deaths in Africa in 2016.
Nigeria has a mortality for air pollution of 307.4 for every 100,000 people, the second worst in all of Africa. More people die from air pollution in Nigeria than in South Africa, Kenya, and Angola, combined.

Air pollution is a critical risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) worldwide, causing about 24% of all adult deaths from heart disease, 29% from lung cancer, 25% from stroke, and 43% from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Major sources of air pollution in Nigeria include tailpipe exhaust from cars and trucks, smoke from the open burning of residential trash, diesel generators, road dust, industry, and soot from the use of biomass-fuelled cookstoves indoors.

The air pollution levels in cities such as Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, and in particular Onitsha, a port city on the bank of the Niger River in southern Nigeria, is still at health-damaging level.

Onitsha recorded the world’s worst levels of PM10 (particles of less than 10 micrometers) air pollutants in 2016 with an annual mean concentration of 594 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3 ). This was 30 times above the World Health Organization (WHO) annual guideline of 20 μg/m3 for PM10.

Causes of air pollution in Nigeria today

  • Combustion of fossil fuels, like coal and oil for electricity and road transport, producing air pollutants like nitrogen and sulfur dioxide.
  • Emissions from industries and factories, releasing large amount of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbon, chemicals and organic compounds into the air.
  • Agricultural activities, due to the use of pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers that emit harmful chemicals
  • Waste production, mostly because of methane generation in landfills.

Nigerian government can control Air pollution through the following ways:

1. Renewable fuel and clean energy production

The most basic solution for air pollution is to move away from fossil fuels, replacing them with alternative energies like solar, wind and geothermal.

2. Energy conservation and efficiency

Producing clean energy is crucial. But equally important is to reduce our consumption of energy by adopting responsible habits and using more efficient devices.

3. Eco-friendly transportation

Shifting to electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles, and promoting shared mobility (i.e carpooling, and public transports) could reduce air pollution.

4. Green building

From planning to demolition, green building aims to create environmentally responsible and resource-efficient structures to reduce their carbon footprint.

In addition, monitoring air pollution levels has become very important to detect pollution peaks, better control air pollution and eventually improve air quality.

To this end, learn how to  measure air quality ?

With measuring devices using laser-based technologies, chemiluminescence, flame ionization, etc. These devices are, for instance, located close to the traffic, far from the traffic and close to industrial zones. All the collected data are compiled into a value scale, called the
Air Quality Index (AQI).

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Ogun Public hygiene


Credit: Channels TV, Nigeria

47 million Nigerians practice open defecation (UNICEF). An estimated 108 million Nigerians still lack access to toilet facilities (United Nations).

It is on this premise, that the Ogun State Ministry of Environment led by their permanent secretary began the house to house enforcement of toilet construction in houses across the State. This intiative is called Ogun Public hygiene.

Great move towards community engagement by the State Government I must say. However, there is a big gap…The gap of collaboration among stakeholders.

Imagine if the Ogun state Ministry of environment, Ministry of health, and Ministry of women affairs and wealth creation collaborated on this initiative?

The Ministry of health would come in to educate the masses about safe toilet use while identifying the community assets;

The Ministry of environment would work through its environmental officers to ensure grassroots proper disposal of wastes, design of cost effective toilets, and enforcement of toilet construction in households;
The Ministry of community development and wealth creation would work with locals to recycle disposed wastes to fertilizers and other useful products.

Collaboration means result driven sustainable solutions to real needs.


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BETWEEN TONING AND BLEACHING “Normal skin colour”???


Bisi turned to look at the lady hailing her, she could not place the face.

But I remember faces quite often, she mused to herself. And for her to call me “Bisistic 100”, definitely only secondary school peeps would call me that.

But this face…I can’t remember at all, she thought on.


Jenny had walked up to Bisi by now. Bisi on her part was trying to be friendly too, but her confused face failed her.

Haaa ha, senior Bisi, why are you looking like this? It is me, your junior babe then o. Try remember now..

Jenny babe. Jenifer James, Ethiopia house, 2006 set. Me, that..

Bisi remembered like a flash..

My goodness…jenny babe! Jenny babe, the one and only Jenny from Akwa Ibom. Jennyfinest 101!!!


I am sorry..come, come , come as she reached out to hug Jenifer.


But…what happened? You are now so light. You were a chocolate skinned lady in secondary school now. That was why I could not place your face now. What have you being using you this babe?


Leave that side Senior Bisi, I only used creams that moved me back to my normal skin color. I was only dark then because of boarding house stress. Now, I am back to my normal skin color.

And as a marketing professional, I need to look my best you know?


These unregulated creams due to chemicals in them can also lead to health conditions like;

Uneven colour loss (Yellow up, black down) redness and severe irritation, dark grey spots, acne (known as pimples), increase in appetite and weight gain, osteoporosis (gradual wearing out of the bones) Kidney cancers among others.

And some people also now use it for their babies just for the babies to look light and fine. Small children o, Haba!!

So, before you buy any cream, make sure it is endorsed by credible Association of dermatologists as safe before buying.

Be concerned about what goes on your skin just the way you will be bothered about what you eat. Is that clear sis?


Alright sis, I will think about it and do the needful.

With hugs, and hugs, the 2 friends tried to catch up on old times.

So what exactly is your “Normal Skin Colour”?

Okay, what creams have you being using that has moved you into your  “Normal skin color”?

Okay..I use “carrot oil, mixed with flower water mixed with organic shea butter cream mixed with.. ”

Jeniferrrrr, I am a consultant dermatologist specialized in skin diseases and I can tell you for free that all those your so called organic trends are full of harmful chemical that can increase your risk to poor health in the future.

You know when something suddenly becomes popular in Nigeria, it may be a sign of a problem.

These creams cannot even pass creaming tests to mouses and insects in developed countries.

Many of this so called organic creams are full of steroids such as hydrocortisone, hydroquinone, mercury, among other chemicals. These chemicals should not be taken into the body anyhow because of their effects.

For example,  for any cream, the hydroquinone level should NOT be above 2%, but for the popular skin lightening cream in Nigeria, some are even as high as 13%.

By: Dr. Noimot Abisola Balogun. Founder,





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Tales of a Hustler

In Yoruba (Baba has tribal marks),

Baba, good afternoon sir, can you go to Ikeja?

Presentation time knocking, rain falling. I had walked to the street entrance to flag down a cab. The network had been bad because of the rain. Couldn’t seem to connect to the tech rides…time waits for no one. 

E san N3000 (pay N3000); ewoo, see as bad network from rain open foul yansh. With my tech based rides, I could not have paid more than 15000 max.

After much argument, I hopped in at an agreed amount. Immediately turned to my phone, needed to look through the proposal before landing. The hustle is real man..

Without asking, I became aware of the environment again with the loud noise from the radio..

In a screaming voice, ”Haaa, won ri omo okunrin kan pelu eran eyan” (haaaa, they saw a man with body parts)…Olopa ti mu looo (Police has taken him away o)

I was weak, the memories of what the scream was all about hit me. Baba had tuned to the popular Yoruba News channel many older generation, semi literate to non-literates listen to. Those screams used to wake me up in Itire where I grew up.

Why will News or simple information come with so much screams and drama?

How can a News channel have the shouting power to induce hypertensive crisis because of their exaggeration of a News item? I asked myself.

Baba..e joor, e ba mi reduce volume yen (Baba, please reduce the volume}. Baba did, I was happy. I never knew this was the beginning of more interaction.

After a while, baba started..

In Yoruba

“My sister, this station that I was listening to is good. They bring so much happenings. Our issue in Nigeria is serious o; Ritual killing, No light, no good road, no food to eat..I kept on looking through my proposal but felt guilty within. Baba continued with the story I also knew..the last time I checked, I also live in Nigeria.

In Yoruba;

Baba, may God help us, but kindly let me concentrate sir. I need to quickly look through this document before getting to my destination.


Oh, It didn’t work! In Yoruba “Don’t be annoyed my child, this Nigeria issue ehhh, it is only God o. Look at me now, I am 62 years…

Arrrrrrrh! Whoever made earplugs? Oh, the guy or lady sure deserves a Nobel laureate.

Have you ever being in a similar experience? Biko let us share!

Noimot Abisola Balogun-Founder, is a healthcare relationship company that works with organizations, health care professionals, research institutes, Government and others in the health value chain to build and sustain health conversations with their consumers and beneficiaries. 

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Koosha Azim: Creator Mindset Video

I always preach that it is important for people to be positive about themselves and be optimistic when in adversity. In the following LinkedIn video, Koosha Azim explains the idea of a Victim and Creator Mindset.

Having a Creator mindset helps in both business settings and with the rest of daily lives. Contrastingly, a Victim mindset could potentially hurt relationships and hurt mental health.

To learn more about Koosha Azim, check out his blog on his personal website.

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The battle to bring antivenoms to Africa

Snake antivenoms have been around for 125 years, are effective and can be produced cheaply at scale. Yet Africa, with its abundance of deadly snakes, has an alarming shortage of the life-saving medicine.

Experts and campaigners blame a combination of weak production capacity, feeble policy and oversight, high prices and a general lack of concern for the plight of people in poor, remote areas of the world.

Complex process

The method of antivenom production has changed very little since it was first developed by French immunologist Albert Calmette in the late 19th century. It remains a painstaking, time-consuming process, although researchers are working to develop synthetic alternatives.

First, a technician has to milk a snake’s venom in a dangerous manoeuvre that sees it holding the animal’s head still while it bites a cup covered in plastic film, releasing its poison — a small amount each time — into the container.

Small venom doses are then injected into a large domestic animal, usually a horse, to trigger an immune response and the production of toxin-attacking antibodies.

After several doses over a period of about a year, the horse produces so many antibodies that it becomes immune to the venom, at which point blood can be taken from the animal.

In a lab, antibodies are then separated from the blood, to be given to snakebite victims — who may need several doses.

An antivenom usually works only for a specific species, or small group of species of snake.

A key challenge, especially in poor, remote areas of the world where most snakebites occur, is that most antivenoms need to be refrigerated.

A ‘shameful failure’

Already patchy, availability of antivenoms in Africa was thrown into disarray when French laboratory SANOFI stopped production in 2014 of its FAV-Afrique drug, which was effective against a number of species, including some of the most dangerous on the continent.

The last available doses expired mid-2016.

SANOFI was moved mainly by financial considerations. The prohibitive price of a single dose — more than $100 — rendered sales in Africa unprofitable.

The failure to use antivenom “to save tens of millions of lives… is a shameful failure. Nowhere in the world is this more confronting than in Africa,” says the Global Snakebite Initiative, adding in a report on its website that the “collapse of the snake antivenom market in Africa” was a “medical tragedy”.

The cause is multifold.

In a vicious circle, unaffordability leads to lower demand and falling sales, which result in reduced production, higher costs, and raised prices for consumers.

Even an antivenom produced on the continent and effective against multiple snake species, is nigh impossible to find further north than South Africa, where it is made, a 2018 study by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine found.

“The market remains volatile because they are small producers and the African antivenom market is limited,” said Julien Potet, an expert in neglected tropical diseases with aid group Doctors Without Borders.

Inconsistent quality standards and lacking oversight have also seen an infiltration of counterfeit and “inappropriate” antivenoms developed for different snake types in other countries. Using the wrong antivenom can be dangerous, even deadly.

Doctors Without Borders, which describes Africa’s antivenom shortage as a public health crisis, has launched its own survey of available antivenoms.

Most were brought to the market “without any clinical information, without any data on their efficacy or safety in humans,” said Potet.

A further problem: even if antivenoms were available, people most likely to be bitten by a venomous snake live prohibitively far from a clinic or hospital, some of which have no refrigeration capacity, and with medical staff that have never been trained in treating snakebites.

Half a million bites

“We are losing around 1,000 people in Kenya each year from snakebites,” said Royjan Taylor, director of the Bio-Ken snake farm and research centre on the country’s east coast.

This is out of 81,000-138,000 worldwide.

Africa alone sees about half a million snakebites that need treatment every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Governments and the international community therefore should really pick that up… What I would like to see over the next five to 10 years, maybe even 15 years, is for an antivenom to be produced for each area of the world that has a problem and that antivenom should be provided to those people free of charge,” Royjan said.

The WHO has launched a massive review of the availability, efficacy and safety of snakebite serum available in Africa, where the majority of countries have no effective or affordable antivenom at all.


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Physical and mental health correlations with productivity in work place and the new way

Mental illnesses, and in particular Common Mental Disorders (CMDs) such as depression and anxiety, are among the most frequent causes of occupational disability. The burden of CMDs is under-recognised in developing countries, despite strong evidence regarding its social impact. Depression is expected to be the second most common disorder across the world behind ischaemic heart disease by 2020 and is expected to account for 15% of the total disease burden. Despite this, several population-based studies in developed countries have demonstrated that CMDs are under-recognised and under-treated.
Globalisation and workplace mental health
As a result of the liberalisation of trade and the exchange of goods and services between countries, globalisation has had a significant impact on social equity. Globalisation has led to a widening gap between the rich and the poor, and workers in developing countries in particular have been marginalised. Furthermore, changes in the nature of work as a result of globalisation have resulted in additional demands on individuals with regards to skills and training, creating additional barriers to employment for those vulnerable to CMDs [ 1].
Globalisation has created an enormous drive to keep labour costs low . This has led to the exploitation of employees who are not rewarded financially and are often victims of cost-cutting by their employers, leading to them working in hazardous conditions.In many developing countries, occupational health is not a significant government priority and hence the beneficiaries of globalisation are able to continue to exploit these vulnerable workers.
The processes of modernisation and industrialisation that has accompanied globalisation have led to a maldistribution of poverty and income levels . In particular, 89% of workers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia earn less than US$2 per day. There is a higher representation of workers in the informal economy in developing countries, which comprises 47% of the workforce, compared with only 15% in developing counties.
Workplace factors may precipitate illness as well as perpetuate disability associated with mental illness. There is good evidence that certain kinds of workplace stress are associated with a higher risk of psychiatric morbidity. It could be expected that the incidence of such workplace stress is higher in developing countries. Thus far, social attention has focused primarily on the impact of harsh working environments on people’s human rights, rather than their emotional wellbeing specifically.
It is increasingly being recognized that the mental health of employees is a crucial determinant in their overall health and that poor mental health and stressors at the workplace can be a contributory factor to a range of physical illnesses like hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular conditions, amongst others. In addition, poor mental health can also lead to burn-out amongst employees, seriously affecting their ability to contribute meaningfully in both their personal and professional lives.
Data from different countries around the world indicate that mental health problems are a cause of a number of employees dropping out of work. In the Netherlands, around 58% of the work-related disabilities are related to mental health. In the UK, it is estimated that around 30–40% of the sickness absence is attributable to some form of mental illness.
Mental health problems have an impact on employers and businesses directly through increased absenteeism, negative impact on productivity and profits, as well as an increase in costs to deal with the issue. In addition, they impact employee morale adversely.
Work-related stress is a major cause of occupational ill health, poor productivity and human error. This means increased sickness absence, high staff turnover and poor performance in the organization and a possible increase in accidents due to human error. Work-related stress could also manifest as heart disease, back pain, headaches, gastrointestinal disturbances or various minor illnesses; as well as psychological effects such as anxiety and depression, loss of concentration and poor decision making.
Stress is the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demands placed upon them. There is a clear distinction between pressure, which can be a motivating factor, and stress, which can occur when this pressure becomes excessive.
Some occupations are at more risk of mental health problems than others. A study in the Netherlands mapped skill levels against the pace of work to have an idea about the risk for stress levels and mental ill health for different occupations. Higher stress levels correlated with a higher risk for mental ill health.
Figure 1 maps the risks for stress and mental ill health for a range of occupations, based on work pace and skills.
Figure 1
Risk for stress and mental ill health for different occupational groups, as determined by the combined effects of work pace and skill discretion (Source: ILO Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety 4 Edition, Edited by Jeanne Mager Stellman, ILO Geneva, 1998)
A tool to evaluate the level of work-related stress and the measures to be taken thereof to control the same have been extensively used.[ 7– 10 ] This tool which is known as the Work Stress Scale (WSS) allows individuals to assess for themselves the degree of stress faced in the following broad domains:
relationship problems with superiors;
bureaucratic constraints;
work family conflict;
relationship problems with colleagues;
performance pressure and
poor job prospects.
Relationship problems with superiors
The most common reason for office stress is dealing with difficult boss. But this may be far easier to solve by improving communication skills. Having a sincere conversation may make a difference. Sometimes, the boss may set unreal targets, where an honest discussion can bring out what deadlines can be met.
Tasks that are not part of an employee role or skill set can also cause stress. Companies often make employees multitask but this could potentially affect their ability to deliver. Communicating with superiors about this matter at the earliest is the best way to resolve this. One area that presents an opportunity for conflict for the personality-disordered individual concerns the hierarchical nature of organizations.[ 11 ]
Relationship problems with colleagues
Another reason could be difficult colleagues or co-workers. Dealing with a difficult co-worker can be a bit more difficult as their performance is often pitted against oneself. This again has to be resolved by an amicable discussion, concluded by a mutual agreement. One can explain to the colleague as how a team can have far more benefits than indulging in rivalry. But if things are getting out of hand, it should be brought to the notice of the superior concerned.
Work family conflict
Families are struggling to cope with an increasingly complex world. Individuals are struggling to find the right balance between work and family responsibility.[ 12 ] Domestic issues can affect work where balancing work and home by allotting adequate time for both can help reduce stress.
High demand for performance
Unrealistic expectations, especially in the time of corporate reorganizations, which, sometimes, puts unhealthy and unreasonable pressures on the employee, can be a tremendous source of stress and suffering. Increased workload, extremely long work hours and intense pressure to perform at peak levels all the time for the same pay, can actually leave an employee physically and emotionally drained. Excessive travel and too much time away from family also contribute to an employee’s stressors.
Job insecurity
Organized workplaces are going through metamorphic changes under intense economic transformations and consequent pressures. Reorganizations, takeovers, mergers, rightsizing and other changes have become major stressors for employees, as companies try to live up to the competition to survive. These reformations have put demand on everyone, from a CEO to a line manager.
Bureaucratic constraints
Organizational size and bureaucratic systems have certain rules and regulations, which are inherent parts of the system to serve as checks and balancing forces.
However, they are likely to serve as constraints and stress for managers. Other job stressors include uncomfortable working conditions, job overload, lack of control over the work process and sheer monotony.[ 13 ] Decreasing work role ambiguity would reduce job strain and work-related psychological disorders including anxiety disorders.[ 14 ]
Companies would do well to address mental wellness at the workplace through a clearly articulated workplace policy on mental health. A prototype of such a policy encompassing the vision, the values and principles and the objectives is appended [Table 1 ].
Table 1
Sample workplace mental well-being policy
Values and principles
Employees are our most valuable asset. We will provide adequate support services to employees to benefit from counseling and other interventions to ensure positive mental health.
We will ensure that employees have access to treatment for mental health problems where needed.
We will periodically assess workplace stress through appropriate surveys conducted ethically.
Based on our internal workplace stress surveys, we will initiate programs to cover the following:
♦ information and awareness campaigns;
♦ employee and manager training;
♦ promoting mental health through our “agile working” initiative;
♦ addressing harassment at the workplace;
♦ specific interventions for identified stressors at the workplace;
♦ training in resilience techniques and coping strategies;
♦ specifically address the prevention, identification and management of depression and anxiety at the workplace;
♦ supporting individuals with mental health problems; and
♦ recruitment and retention practices which do not discriminate against people with mental health problems.
Objectives of the policy
We will evaluate and control organizational factors that could potentially contribute to work-related stress.
We will implement stress and burn-out prevention and management programs for employees at risk as well as early detection and support programs to deal with alcohol or mental health problems once they have occurred to ensure that an employee can contribute meaningfully to himself, his family and at the workplace.
We seek to enhance the productivity of the business by providing adequate support to employees following any mental health deviations.
We will minimize disability amongst employees by providing specific interventions against conditions like depression and anxiety.
The development and implementation of a workplace mental health policy and program will benefit the health of employees, increase the productivity of the company and will contribute to the well-being of the community at large. It has been found that psychosocial intervention courses along with stress management training and health promotion interventions have a positive impact on mental well-being.[ 15 ]
A healthy population is an economically productive population and it is in the benefit of companies to safeguard public health. Given the heavy contributions of the private sector to the economy, employee wellness programs are not only a strategic priority for India but also an economic imperative for corporations.[ 16 ]
Steps Towards Maximum Productivity, Across Your Life
thing at a time, and if we get distracted, it can take up to 23 minutes to refocus.

That doesn’t mean, though, that people can’t do two things at once. Productivity coach Nicole Bandes encourages what she calls “multipurposing” — accomplishing one focused task and one routine task at the same time.

For Example:

Listen to that skills-building podcast while you’re shopping for groceries.
Instead of eating lunch alone, grab a bite with a colleague and have a work meeting.
Schedule a conference call as you’re commuting (but not driving!) in the morning.
“It’s about getting multiple benefits out of one task,” she says. “You can complete two things if it doesn’t require having you to focus in two different directions.”

Keep Moving
For years, Kaitlin Bitting aimed to schedule a workout into her day, but the Philadelphia public relations professional could never find the time. Finally, about a year ago, the natural night owl started setting her alarm for 6 a.m. to get to the gym first thing.

“I can sleep with the best of them,” she said. “But I needed to find uninterrupted time to exercise.”

While she started the workouts to improve her health, Bitting quickly noticed another payoff: She was far more productive at work.

Consider This:

Work out in the morning or at lunch, when you still have work left to do — it can help you do more during the day.
Get a standing desk. “Sitting is the new smoking,” says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, director of executive and international medicine at the Mayo Clinic. “So even getting a workstation where you can stand up can help.”
Take the stairs as much as you can, and get up and go for a walk during a work break.
Bitting became so productive, she found time to start moonlighting as a health and wellness coach.

“I feel best when I’m motivated and energized to do what I need to do during the day,” says Bitting. “It’s taken time, but I now know my body and how to increase my productivity.”

Go to Sleep
Working sleep-deprived can be akin to working drunk.

“People have failed sobriety tests when they don’t get enough sleep,” Faubion says. “Our brains don’t work well when we’re tired.”

Getting seven to eight hours is a must, she says. Easier said than done, right?

Consider This:

Go to bed and get up the same time every day. Studies have shown this reinforces your circadian rhythm and helps keep sleep quality consistent.
Get a real alarm clock, and leave the phone in the other room. “If you wake up in the middle of the night and start looking at email, you’ll train yourself to get up at night,” Faubion says. And don’t look at the phone at least an hour before it’s time to go to sleep. The light from your phone can delay your body’s release of melatonin, which helps invite your body to sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Don’t drink anything two hours before bedtime so your body won’t want to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night — and keep you up afterward, Faubion says.
Try a sleep mask and a white noise machine to combat noise and light distractions.
Treat Food as Fuel
Healthier eating habits can give us more energy during the day, which in turn, makes us more productive.i
While some of these programs take time to learn and set up, they can ultimately help make your work more efficient and “free up time to do the things that help you meet your goals and move you in the direction you want to go,” Bandes says.

And for the moments when you feel like you’re running on empty, there are meditation apps like Headspace and Calm, that can help restore the mind and bring back focus.
Workplace mental health interventions in the developing world
Whilst health promotion in workplace settings has received attention in the developed world, the focus on mental health promotion has been on stress in general and the identification and treatment of individuals with CMDs has not been a specific focus [30 ]. Employers in developing countries may be more likely to enforce attendance of employees when unwell; hence it could be expected that higher rates of mental illness and a greater level of presenteeism may contribute to even lower productivity .
In developed countries, the welfare system provides a public “safety net”, as a result of which the burden of unemployment is shared by the government. In the absence of a welfare system that may protect individuals who are unable to work as a result of their mental illness, workers in developing countries are likely to continue to work despite their disability. The impact on workplace productivity in developing countries is hence magnified, and goes beyond the direct costs as a result of impairment in the workplace. Given the evidence for the effectiveness of workplace interventions, workplace interventions in developing countries ought to be seen as an investment in social capital. It could hence be argued that the workplace provides a critical setting for health promotion, screening of individuals with CMDs as well as a focal point for the provision of interventions and identifying individuals who would benefit from referral to mental health professionals for further management. However advocacy is critical to improve working conditions in impoverished settings in order to prevent psychiatric morbidity and to improve the quality of life of workers (1).
The economic benefits that may arise from improving workplace conditions and reducing the burden of mental illness in the workplace are substantial, and it is highly likely that demonstration of the cost effectiveness of such programs to employers in developing countries would improve their uptake .
It is interesting to note that the focus of employers in developed countries has been on the retention of the ageing workforce, and creating incentives for individuals to remain in employment, rather than alternatives such as taking early retirement. In the absence of adequate welfare systems and the lack of opportunities for life beyond retirement age, the focus of employers in developing countries is clearly a different matter. Advocacy for improving workplace mental health must focus on fundamental changes in labour market reform and further control over informal working conditions that are so prevalent in developing countries [ 1]. Such reform may in turn lead to a happier and more productive workforce.
Workplace reform interventions must be empowering and involve multidisciplinary and multisectoral cooperation. There is a need for collaboration between the primary health care sector and employers in particular. Incentive systems provided by governments to employers to improve the effort-reward imbalance may reduce the psychological stress experienced by employees. In addition, collaboration between government departments and other stakeholders responsible for health, welfare and the labour workforce is necessary to reduce inefficiencies by pooling resources to coordinate mental health promotion activities in the workforce and the promotion of work-life balance. As described by Prem (2009) improved living conditions, improved access to primary health care and stronger communities may reduce the impact of psychosocial stress in the workplace.
The interaction between mental illness and workplace environment is complex and multifaceted. CMDs have a negative impact on workplace productivity and adverse workplace environments are associated with a higher prevalence of CMDs. Studies thus far have focused on mental health promotion and interventions to treat CMDs in the workplace, primarily in developed countries. However by contrast there are stark differences in workplace environment and standards in the developing world. In the current era of globalisation, greater attention is required to address the imbalance between workplace standards in the developed and developing worlds. Advocacy and research in mental health promotion and interventions to address CMDs in the workplace setting in developing countries is an urgent priority.
Read more:
1. Cole Haan (2018): 5 Steps Towards Maximum Productivity, Across Your Life; Forbes. Online:

2. Prem Chopra (2009): Mental health and the workplace: issues for developing , Journal of Mental Health Systems 20093 :4. BioMed Central Ltd. Online:

3. Rajgopal T.(2010): Mental well-being at the workplace; National Center for Biotechnology Information; U.S. National Library of Medicine; Online:

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