Jet Stanley Madu

Environmental Health Officers Association of Nigeria (EHOAN) has declared that when government gives preventive health care the attention it deserves, it will help in checking the outbreak of communicable diseases.

Speaking during the 50th Annual Scientific Workshop and First International Conference on Environmental Health in Lagos recently, National President of the association, Dr. Samuel Akingbehim, lamented the priority placed on curative medicine than preventive by the government, members of the public, community and local governments.

Addressing the over 2,000 delegates at the event, including government officials and resource persons, he declared that over the years, environmental health services had not been fruitful, effective and result-oriented.

He listed some of the militating factors to include, inadequate budgetary allocation by government to the environmental health services.

Other factors, he said, are, “lack of adequate environmental health workers in government employment, absence of scientific equipment for use by environmental health workers, lack of adequate facilities and equipment for effective waste management and environmental services, poor attitude of members of the profession to house-to-house inspection and inspection of regulated premises.”

This, according to him, “makes our impact on the society lost and eroded and the issue of poor planning for effective and well-organised environmental health services in our dear country Nigeria.

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He declared that unless the trend was reversed, disease burden in Nigeria and Africa as a whole will continue to
increase and attainment of health for all continues to remain a mirage.

Akingbehin noted that the conference couldn’t have come at a better time than now, when the manifestations of climate change so glaring, emergence of numerous of communicable diseases, nationally and globally, owing to negligence of environmental health services.

Facilitators at the event spoke on the need for synergy by all stakeholders. Professor George Kalani of the Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, United Kingdom in his keynote address, every nation of the world deserves improves health system.

He stated that alcoholism poses serious environmental challenges. He charged African governments to set funds aside to address issues surrounding drunkenness particularly, in the cities. The professor called for the promoting of good sustainable public health policy where government can work collaboratively with the private sector to address public health concerns.

“We need to partner with all stakeholders. Irrespective of whom you are, you have a part to play in the area of climate change and in promoting environmental health,” he said .

Also speaking, Lagos EHOAN President, Awonuga Taiwo, stated that the members’ role as preventive professional in the health care delivery sector was unrivaled and can never be over-emphasised.

He stressed the need for the practitioners to continue to make them visible and audible in the healthcare sector,
while observing that the 50th national conference and first international conference of the EHOAN was where practitioners converge to discuss contemporary issues in their field of practice as it affects the nation and the
world in general.

He charged the government to “look passionately into increasing the number of professionals in environmental health services, saying a step in that direction would be crucial in the elimination of emerging and re-emerging diseases, prevention and control of communicable diseases and ultimately, the attainment of some sustainable development goals.