Access to essential medicines and health products is critical for reaching universal health coverage. Medicines and health products are important for addressing health problems and improve quality of lives. They form an indispensable component of health systems in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease and in alleviating disability and functional deficiency.
In addition to safety risks, many jobs also present risks of disease, illness and other long-term health problems. Among the most common occupational diseases are various forms of pneumoconiosis, including silicosis and coal worker's pneumoconiosis (black lung disease). Asthma is another respiratory illness that many workers are vulnerable to. Workers may also be vulnerable to skin diseases, including eczema, dermatitis, urticaria, sunburn, and skin cancer. Other occupational diseases of concern include carpal tunnel syndrome and lead poisoning.
The term natural health product (NHP) is used in Canada to describe substances such as vitamins and minerals, herbal medicines, homeopathic preparations, energy drinks, probiotics, and many alternative and traditional medicines. A 2010 survey showed that 73% of Canadians consume NHP on a regular basis. NHP are obtainable without a prescription and are required to be safe to be used as an over-the-counter product.