Yearly, work-related deaths in this country are estimated to number more than 2 Million. 2.34 Million to be exact. 2 Million Deaths are occupational and disease related and the rest are through accidents. In a report submitted to the International Labor Organization, technological and social changes, as well as difficult global economic conditions, existing health hazards remain a persistent threat to workers not only in this country but all over the world while new health risks have also emerged.
The prevalent and well documented occupational disease is respiratory related illnesses that remain widespread. Considering the fact those workers in this country is concentrated more on farm and in exposed labor work their exposure to the elements easily could contract pneumoconiosis and asbestos related illnesses. Added aggravating factors include exposure to chemicals in work activities, diseases cause by physical agents, contact with biological agents, infectious or parasitic diseases, and occupational diseases by target organ systems, skin diseases, musculoskeletal disorders, mental and behavioral disorders and occupational cancer. In other words, workers today have almost the same lifespan compared with that of his ancient ancestor when work was then limited to hunting. It has gone full circle. Man lives only up to an old age of 47!
In the correctional setting, the prevailing health challenge that contributes highly on its death rate is likewise respiratory in nature. To be specific, more on PTB or Pulmonary Tuberculosis cases. Even for the sake of argument that the P60 per capita is not enough nutrition to make a prisoner healthy, and even assuming further that it be increased, say P100 a day, tuberculosis would still remain as a hold over infectious disease that could claim an inmate’s life. The stress and pressure of institutional discipline and routine, not to mention apprehension and the violent relationship forged, had a marked degree of emotional and psychological impact on the person that no amount of nutrition can offset.
And while medical science has virtually wiped out the strain that promotes tubercular infection through vaccine and related medical procedures, there arise a new strain which scientists are baffled. Such PTB strain which can no longer be treated anymore. A strain which has added into the list of ailments, like Aids and Cancer, which cannot be contained and cured, even by modern science. Deaths in prison caused by PTB will therefore continue for some time.
Correctional officers also must take heed and should be warned accordingly. They have direct and open exposure in the prison camp. Their custodial obligation requires them to experience absolute contact within the prison community. While PTB is not airborne, it is contagious. Much more so, some inmates like most rural (and some urban) folks spit normally anywhere, PTB bacterial spread is made in the surrounding space and environment. When a correctional officer is infected, he spreads it in the free community. And that is where the scary incident is all about. A contagion like the movie “Busan”, a Korean film might take place. In Singapore, health is of prime concern. A person is instantly arrested when seen spitting, or even chewing a gum! It makes sense if applied in public places.
A smoking ban by Duterte administration (Executive Order Number 26, series of 201`7), may not be smoker friendly, but it is a brilliant move that would preserve communal health. Any piece of legislation as long as it is aimed at welfare and health is a respectful act of a progressive leadership. Good leadership means longer life and a safer one at that for the constituency.