Council reviews guidelines to address environmental health challenges

Environmental health practitioners

Environmental Health Council of Nigeria (EHCON) has commenced the review of its guidelines to reposition the environmental health system in the country and mitigate emerging environmental health challenges.

Dr Yakubu Baba, Registrar of the Council, said this at the technical review meeting on the guidelines for environmental health practice in Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja.

He emphasised that the overall goal is to improve the health of the populace.

Baba identified some emerging and reemerging issues in environmental health as the climate change, COVID-19 pandemic among others.

He said climate change has become a reality, adding that environmental health is in the right position to be able to contribute significantly to the issue of mitigation, adaptation and resilience in the climate change structure.

“So, these are the issues that are emerging and reemerging; we are expecting another emerging and reemerging disease, we have to prepare and have instruments and also build the capacity of our men to be able to address these challenges,” he said.

Baba, who said about 14 critical instruments would be reviewed at the meeting listed them to include the National Environmental Health Practice Regulation, monitoring, evaluation and surveillance system.

Others are delineation of functions and roles of environmental health practitioners, development of the council’s strategic plan, review of the National Institute of Environmental Health, development of tools for monitoring and evaluation of practice, development of strategic plan for the Council.

The essence is to strengthen the practitioners and also to reinvigorate the practice of environmental health and meet global standards.

The Registrar said the intention of the Council is to have an instrument that would strengthen the practitioners and also reinvigorate the practice of environmental health in Nigeria.

“These instructions determine our survival as a practitioner, considering the Council’s Act, it gives it a lot of power to regulate the practice of the environmental health profession but without these instruments we are seeing a lot of gaps.

“The essence is to strengthen the practitioners and also to reinvigorate the practice of environmental health and meet global standards.

“The aim is also to strengthen the practice and reposition the profession as part of the agenda of our rebranding process of environmental health in Nigeria,” he said.

The registrar said the National Environmental Health Practice Regulation was last reviewed in 2015, adding that the meeting would consider its review to encapsulate new issues that were not initially covered in the regulation.

He further said there was a need to consider the document on standard delineation of roles and functions of environmental professionals in Nigeria to rid the system of overlap as well as conflict among practitioners in the local, state and federal levels.

Dr Shehu Muhammad, Chief Facilitator of the meeting, said the era of having practitioners who are jack-of-all-trades and master of none is gone.

He said the focus at the moment is specialisation, to create practitioners that have knowledge and skills in one or two areas of environmental health.

“Our job as facilitators is to ensure we improve the health of the populace, look at the policies we use in implementing environmental health laws in states, identify the gaps in the laws, and ensure we fill in those gaps.

“Also, to update the regulations so that they will be able to deal with all environmental health issues around our environment like emerging diseases.

“Part of what we are doing here is to develop documents that will enhance the skills of professionals to be able to take control of diseases,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that participants at the meeting from both public and private sectors were drawn from academia, local governments, states and federal among others. (NAN)

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