The Institute of Occupational Health of the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine (until 1991 - the Kyiv Research Institute of Labour Hygiene and Occupational Diseases of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine) was founded in 1928. Prominent Ukrainian scientists took part in its formation: Academician V.Yu. Chagovets, Professors S.M. Chumanov, G. Shkavera, M.V. Leinyk, M.K. Vitte, J.M. Erman. An important contribution to development of the Institute was made by L.I. Medved - Academician of the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR, G.Kh. Shahbazyan - Corresponding Member of the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR. The Institute has gained an international recognition under the guidance of Yu.I. Kundiyev - Academician of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.

The first scientific researches were conducted on prevention of occupational diseases and injuries in agriculture and at sugar factories, as well as on toxicology of pesticides, physiology of muscle activity and heat exchange in the body of workers.

In the postwar years, scientific developments of the Institute were aimed at improving work conditions in the hot shops of metallurgical plants and in the oil refining industry, and also the scope of research on hygiene and physiology of work in agriculture was expanded. Since 1952, the Institute has been leading scientific research on the problem "Scientific Foundations on Occupational Health and Occupational Pathology" in Ukraine.

In the next period, the Institute conducted research on occupational health and occupational pathology in agriculture, electric welding, and thermal power plants. The works were carried out together with the leading scientific-research institutes of technical, chemical and agricultural profile (E.O. Paton Electric Welding Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Institute of Problems of Materials Science of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Research Autotractor Institute, Institute of Agricultural Mechanical Engineering, etc.).

On the basis of agreements, the Institute expands scientific cooperation with similar institutions in Belarus, the People's Republic of China, Poland, the Russian Federation, and the USA. As a result of the cooperation, unified hygienic standards, common methodological approaches to evaluation of technologies, equipment, chemicals, as well as advanced methods for early detection of adverse effects of harmful factors have been developed.

From 1979 to 1990, the Institute headed the development of the problem "Scientific bases of rural health" in the Soviet Union.

For many years, the Institute's staff took an active part in the elimination of the medical consequences of the Chernobyl accident. An epidemiological study of the reproductive function of women, who worked in agriculture and lived in regions with different levels of contamination by radionuclides, was conducted; a number of important works were performed directly in the 30-km zone. On the basis of the in-depth analysis, a conclusion was drawn about the combined effect of ionizing radiation, heavy metals (primarily lead), pesticides and neuro-emotional stress on the health of workers (liquidators) and the general population.

In order to develop and implement measures aimed at improving work conditions requiring engineering and technical solutions, a Design Research Bureau was organized in the institute in 1973. In Ukraine, it was the first experience in combining scientific and technical efforts on the basis of the Institute of a hygienic profile. In that period, effective systems of inflow and exhaust local ventilation were developed and implemented, and technological equipment for more than 200 enterprises was upgraded with due account of hygienic requirements.

The Institute took an active part in implementation of the National Program for Improvement of Safety, Occupational Health and Work Environment (1996-2000); it was an executant of certain tasks of the State Program "Nation's Health" (in 2005-2010). It is an active participant of the State Program "HIV / AIDS Prevention in the Workplace", as well as one of the developers of the State Program "Health 2020: Ukrainian Dimension".

The international scientific connections of the Institute are constantly expanding. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) carried out interregional seminars on occupational health in agriculture for Asian, African, Latin American and European countries. From 1972 to 2011, the WHO Collaborating Center in Agriculture was functioning in the Institute. At the suggestion of the WHO, sanitary and hygienic requirements to agricultural machinery have been developed, as well as methods for assessing the health of agricultural workers exposed to noise, vibration, and heat. These developments of the Institute were distributed among all WHO member countries.

From 1983 to 1991, International Courses on Preventive Toxicology were systematically conducted for specialists from developing countries in the Institute under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Program.

The Institute expands the scientific cooperation with similar institutions in Belarus, the People's Republic of China, Poland, the Russian Federation, and the USA by means of the agreements. As a result of such cooperation there have been developed unified hygienic standards, common methodological approaches to evaluation of technologies, equipment, chemicals, and improved methods for early detection of the adverse effect of different work-related factors.

Therefore, according to the results of the Institute's research on asbestos cement enterprises of Ukraine, carried out in different years, cases of asbestosis, occupational lung cancer, pleural mesothelioma in the workers was not found.

However, given the fact that all types of asbestos are indisputable carcinogens (according to our data, chrysotile asbestos is still less dangerous compared to amphibole), as well as the long latent period of development of lung cancer under the influence of asbestos (40 and more years), data World literature on the risk of asbestos and the inadequate level of diagnosis of prophylactic cancer in Ukraine, we believe that, based on the principle of "no harm", the use of asbestos in Ukraine should be prohibited.

The humanism of the profession of physician and the principles of bioethics suggest that when it is possible to ban the use of carcinogens, this should be done - in order to preserve the health of people. No economic arguments here are unacceptable. Other sources of asbestos pollution of the surrounding environment, which still remain, must be under special control. Their complete elimination is the next step in government policy to eliminate asbestos-related diseases.


CHERNYUK Volodymyr Ivanovych,

Director of the Institute,

Corresponding Member of the NAMS of Ukraine,

Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor.