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Rev Med Inst Mex Seguro Soc. 2019 Mar 15;56(6):550-557.

Child labour and occupational health in Mexico: a challenge for medicine

[Article in Spanish; Abstract available in Spanish from the publisher]

Author information

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Facultad de Medicina, Departamento de Salud Pública. Ciudad de México, México


in English, Spanish

Occupational Health is a transdisciplinary activity relatively less known and under-developed in Mexico. Its objective is the well-being of workers: physical, mental and social spheres. Hygiene, safety, ergonomics, psychology, medicine, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, sociology, anthropology, law and economics, are some examples of the disciplines involved in the field of Occupational Health. Child labour is all productive activity carried out by persons under 18 years old, with or without compensation, which is harmful to their physical, mental and social development. In Mexico more than 2.5 million children and adolescents face this situation. Most of them work in the informal sector where hazardous work environment may exist and occupational health activities or at least, occupational medicine services are missing. Promoting the work of children is not a moral act but poverty and inequity that force them to work in some countries is happening every day. Without better alternatives, eradication of child labour in the short or medium term does not seem a realistic goal. This paper highlights the need for a new way of thinking about child labour: child work that is safe. Social and professional awareness about the reality of child labour and occupational health potential could represent the opportunity to at least make child labour into safe child work. Physicians may have a privileged position to lead that transformation, if provided with the right training and tools.


Occupational Health; Child Health; Child Labour; Mexico

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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