Health Promotion Advocacy in Action

The Bangalore Declaration on a Healthy Workforce

By Ron Kirk, DC

Funded through a grant from the Association of Chiropractic Colleges (ACC) presidents, working in concert with Life University and the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC), chiropractors participating in the Straighten Up India initiative sponsored and spearheaded the World Health Organization (WHO) Workshop on Worker Health in Bangalore, India from Dec. 17-18, 2007.

With participation from a broad range of health, civic, governmental and industrial leaders, the Workshop on Worker Health featured several historic advocacy outcomes, including the signing of the Bangalore Declaration on a Healthy Workforce and initiation of Bangalore's first tobacco-free construction worksite.

Local, regional and international workshop participants formulated a prioritized plan of action with target groups and objectives to improve the health of workers in Bangalore and Karnataka in congruence with the WHO Global Action Plan on Workers' Health and the Bangalore declaration. The impact of these outcomes is large, as metropolitan Bangalore currently has 15 million residents, while the state of Karnataka has 55 million residents.

Developed and signed by multiple local, regional and international leaders, the Bangalore Declaration on a Healthy Workforce charter features a holistic cultural and environmental approach that focuses on health education, musculoskeletal health promotion, stress reduction and tobacco cessation. In addition to spinal health promotion, tobacco cessation is one of the top-priority lifestyle recommendations of Straighten Up and the WFC Public Health Committee. In concert with the Bangalore declaration and the Straighten Up India initiative, doctors of chiropractic are currently coordinating forward-head-posture research and education for police and schoolchildren in Bangalore.

The WHO Workshop on Workers Health was an outgrowth of the Bangalore Healthy City Initiative (BHCI), functioning in collaboration with the WHO Occupational Health Cluster and multiple partners. This initiative is integrative, inclusive and grassroots in nature, coordinating the vision, input and efforts of diverse stakeholders and subgroups of the population of Bangalore, as well as regional and international partners. While the public health problems of the people of Bangalore are diverse and profound, so are the resolve and commitment of workshop participants to promote the health of Bangalore's citizens. After conducting WHO roundtable discussions in February 2007, which revealed high levels of worker stress, spinal disorders, substance abuse, and exposure to pollutants and hazardous substances, workshop participants moved from dialogue and planning to advocacy and courageous action. Ultimately, their efforts led to the signing of the historic Bangalore declaration.

Implementation of the declaration is of paramount importance because India suffers from a wide variety occupational health hazards and worker health disorders related to rapid industrialization. Large employers such as Karnataka and Bangalore, as well as private companies, are looking for effective methods to reduce worker injuries and illnesses to improve the personal productivity of their employees. Additionally, many individuals in the informal economies engage in deleterious health habits at work, and their health and quality of life suffer as a consequence. To assist in dealing with these issues, the BHCI has functioned collaboratively to establish goals, methodologies, facilities and training to facilitate assessment of the health of workers and all citizens, and to promote positive health behaviors accordingly.

Now the Citizens Forum of the BHCI, in concert with the WHO Occupational Health Cluster, the Indian Occupational Health Centre (South), and multiple partners including Straighten Up, Life University, the ACC, the WFC and the Chiropractic Diplomatic Corps, is working to implement the WHO Global Action Plan on Workers Healthto empower and improve the health of the workers of Bangalore and the surrounding regions.

For more information on how you can use Straighten Up to empower your practice or community, visit

Dr. Ron Kirk is a professor at Life University and the seed and Delphi panel facilitator for Just Start Walking. He serves in a similar capacity for the Straighten Up spinal health initiative. Contact Dr. Kirk with questions regarding the Just Start Walking program at .

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