ACOEM, Allies Launch International Medical Society Collaborative

The first meeting of representatives from 16 occupational medical societies took place last week at ACOEM's annual meeting. They agreed the estimated 270 million occupational accidents and 160 million occupationally related diseases annually around the world make the case for societies to share resources and information.

Leaders from 16 international occupational medical societies attending the 2013 annual meeting of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) have launched the International Occupational Medicine Society Collaborative, an initiative aimed at improving worker health and wellness globally through the exchange of ideas and information.

Co-sponsored by ACOEM and the Society of Occupational Medicine, located in the United Kingdom, the collaborative is a forum to promote best practices in occupational medicine and greater awareness of issues impacting workers' health worldwide, according to ACOEM.

The group discussed topics ranged from the impact of an aging workforce to the rise of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, that affect workers' health and productivity. Representatives from Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, India, Ireland, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, the Philippines, Slovakia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States took part.

The meeting's organizers noted the International Labour Organization estimates 270 million occupational accidents and 160 million cases of occupationally related diseases occur annually around the world, along with more than 2 million work-related fatalities, offering a compelling reason for international occupational medicine societies to share resources and information.

"As professional medical societies, we are engaged in a wide variety of educational, research, and advocacy activities aimed at addressing worker health, injury and illness," said ACOEM President Dr. Ron Loeppke, M.D., co-chair for the first meeting. "Major contributions to the science and practice of occupational medicine are increasingly coming from all countries around the world. By communicating more closely as a group, we can leverage our individual efforts and experiences for greater impact."

The other co-chair, Dr. Richard Heron, M.D., president of the Society of Occupational Medicine, called the meeting a "great first-step forward in a shared effort to promote healthy workplaces worldwide."

The collaborative plans to conduct a series of online meetings during 2013-14 and an in-person meeting tentatively planned for a location in Europe in 2014. For more information about it, send an email or call 847-818-1800.

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