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ASSESSMENT OF ROUTIN SANITARY INSPECTION BY ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH OFFICER IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT
The growing awareness of the impact of human activities on the environment and the resulting threat to both nature and man have convinced most governments of the need to include prevention of air, water and soil pollution as well as the sanitation of polluted sites in their priority action programmes. Since relatively few people have so far been trained to properly address pollution issues, it is imperative that, in addition to research into environmental matters, the education and training of specialists in pollution prevention and remediation are given urgent attention in every country. The ICP ‘Environmental Sanitation’ aims the formation of environmental specialists with sufficient knowledge of (1) the concept of pollution and what it actually means, (2) the detection and quantification of environmental pollution, (3) the possible impact of environmental pollutants on ecosystems and biota , coupled with the current techniques for risk assessment, and (4) the available technologies for prevention and remediation of environmental pollution and how they are applied in practice. The program mainly focuses on graduates from developing countries with a responsible position in the field of environment within local administrations, universities or NGOs.
An assessment of the status of housing was carried our in Ile-Ife, a typical Nigerian town in south-western part of Nigeria with a population of more than 180,000 inhabitants made up of people from different parts of the country . Two hundred and thirty-four residential buildings were observed for the purpose of assessing their compliance with minimum standard of fitness as stipulated in existing regulations. Results showed that most of the dwellings were found deficient in meeting the basic requirements expected of living premises and therefore remain unfit for habitation according to Public Health Standard. Economic viability as well as level of education of owners/occupiers have been found to be major determinants of housing condition and government`s effort at addressing problems of housing may not be able to achieve the desirable success without making conscious effort to improve the socio-economic status of the people. Sanitation is the hygienic means of promoting health through prevention of human contact with the hazards of wastes as well as the treatment and proper disposal of sewage wastewater. Hazards can be either physical, microbiological, biological or chemical agents of disease. Wastes that can cause health problems include human and animal feces, solid wastes, domestic wastewater (sewage, sullage, greywater), industrial wastes and agricultural wastes. Hygienic means of prevention can be by using engineering solutions (e.g. sewage and wastewater treatment), simple technologies (e.g. latrines, septic tanks), or even by personal hygiene practices (e.g. simple handwashing with soap).
1.1 BACKGRPOUND OF THE STUD
Environmental health is as old as man s though changes name from time to time, so it has been with us time immemorial. Environmental health is the control of all factors that may have direct or indirect effect on physical, social and mental well being of man in his society. As such, its public health importance cannot be overemphasized. This is because it dealt with many things that affect man’s life in one way or the other from environmental and food hygiene to building/water sanitation technology and waste treatment disposal to healthful housing and control of disease[s] vectors and others. In view of this, this paper looks at the historical background of Environmental Health Officer[s] [EHOs] in Nigeria , their duties, and the present circumstances the officers found themselves and what might be done to address the situation. About the historical background and their duties, I come across a book titled “Preventing disease through proper environmental management in the 21st century in Nigeria” , published by the then Professional Association of Environmental Health Officers of Nigeria [PAEHON] and now Environmental Health officers Association of Nigeria [EHOAN] which I unashamedly so copiously quote for the reader to see and read clearly from the association of the profession, for no other information that will be better than theirs. My intention of quoting the book is to clear the darkness that circumscribed many people who see the profession [environmental health] that produces environmental health officers [or technologist] as unprofessional, unimportant, and even underrate it; and to re-inform other Nigerian about the role played by them since the time of colonial administration and the present Nigeria in shaping Nigeria’s health sector which as at now has been downplayed in favour of other health services [especially curative aspect of health] that to some extent is far away within the community reach and costly to afford. More so to encourage leaders to focus their policy toward prevention, which is better and cheaper than cure in spending much on environment than fighting disease[s] elsewhere [hospital precisely]. Environmental Health Officers (also known as Public Health Inspectors) are responsible for carrying out measures for protecting public health, including administering and enforcing legislation related to environmental health and providing support to minimize health and safety hazards. They are involved in a variety of activities, for example inspecting food facilities, investigating public health nuisances, and implementing disease control. Environmental health officers are focused on prevention, consultation, investigation, and education of the community regarding health risks and maintaining a safe environment.
EHOs bring to the position an understanding of microbiology, risk assessment, environmental science and technology, food science, as well as the skills and knowledge related to the tracking and control of communicable disease. They must also have strong investigative skills and a thorough understanding of the application of legislation related to public health and the environment. Working in partnership with Government Ministries (such as Health, Agriculture and Environment), local municipalities, businesses, community groups, other agencies and individual members of the community, the EHO plays a major role in protecting public health.
Some past/historic titles include inspector of nuisances, sanitarian, and sanitary inspector. Other titles that currently exist include environmental health specialist/practitioner/professional, public health officer, health officer, health inspector, and health official. The legal title used will depend on the definitions found in local legislation/jurisdiction. Environmental health professionals are usually employed by local government or state health authorities to advise on and enforce public health standards. However, many are employed in the private sector and in the military. A Public Health Inspector (also known as an Environmental Health Officer) is a public employee who investigates health hazards in a wide variety of locations, and will take action to mitigate or eliminate the hazards. Usually the public perception of a health inspector is someone who examines restaurants and ensures they maintain sanitary standards for food safety set by the regulating authority. However, public health inspectors have much broader job duties, including inspecting swimming pools, substandard housing conditions, public schools, day cares, nursing homes, and personal service establishments such as tattoo parlours. Depending on their jurisdiction, Registered Environmental Health Officers often permit and inspect wells, private water systems, and individual subsurface sewage disposal (septic) systems. Other tasks include: campground inspections, tanning salon inspections, beauty salon inspections, correctional facility inspections and mobile home park inspection. The public health inspector (environmental health officer) also plays a vital role in community projects such as those concerning health promotion, tobacco reduction, healthy built environments/healthy communities, food security, and emergency preparedness.
They may also respond to complaints such as animal bites, garbage complaints, odor complaints, or sewage overflows. Due to their educational background they can provide information and referrals with regards to; lead, radon, mold, and emerging diseases such as West Nile Virus and Avian Flu. The field also overlaps with hazardous materials (Hazmat) and many Hazmat responders are also Licensed Environmental Health Practitioners or Registered Environmental Health Specialists.
Environmental health officers work with many different people in a variety of environments. Their jobs often involve considerable fieldwork, and some travel frequently. Many environmental health officers work long and often irregular hours. They inspect pools, childcare centers, restaurants, septic systems, and many other types of establishments that relate to health and safety. Environmental health officers may be exposed to many of the same physically strenuous conditions and hazards as industrial employees, and the work may be performed in unpleasant, stressful, and dangerous working conditions. They may find themselves in an adversarial role if the management of an organization disagrees with the recommendations for ensuring a safe working environment. Sanitation is the hygienic means of promoting health through prevention of human contact with the hazards of wastes as well as the treatment and proper disposal of sewage wastewater. Hazards can be either physical, microbiological, biological or chemical agents of disease. Wastes that can cause health problems include human and animal feces, solid wastes, domestic wastewater (sewage, sullage, greywater), industrial wastes and agricultural wastes. Hygienic means of prevention can be by using engineering solutions (e.g. sewage and wastewater treatment), simple technologies (e.g. latrines, septic tanks), or even by personal hygiene practices (e.g. simple handwashing with soap).
1.2 PROBLEM OF THE STUDY
Environmental Sanitation has remained consistently poor in Nigeria for a long time. Consequently, there is high morbidity and mortality from sanitation related diseases. This scenario, which is associated with impoverishment and poor standard of living among the populace, has been of great concern to successive Governments and efforts albeit piecemeal and uncoordinated, have been made at various times/levels to complement the socio-cultural norms of sanitation practices in the communities. The Environmental Sanitation related diseases exacerbate poverty by diminishing productivity and household income. In addition, the national cost of lost productivity, reduced educational potential and huge curative health costs constitute a major drain on the local and national economy. Besides, a dirty environment with its attendant health consequences, prevailing in most of our cities, can discourage tourists/investors and undermine the economic benefit of tourism to the country.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
i) To coordinate the activities of all Stakeholders involved in Environmental Sanitation and streamline their roles;
ii) To strengthen the capacity of all institutions and Agencies involved in Environmental Sanitation programmes;
iii) To develop healthy human habitation and reduce the incidence of Environmental Sanitation related diseases;
iv) To achieve positive attitudinal changes in people towards sound Environmental Sanitation;
v) To encourage research and development, define local standards and establish database on Environmental Sanitation;
vi) To identify local funding mechanisms for Environmental Sanitation in Nigeria.
4.3.2 Management Objectives
i) Identify key Stakeholders, assess existing operations and define expected roles in policy implementation;
ii) To define manpower requirements and training needs, implement training programmes and strengthen existing institutions;
v) Develop and implement a Master Plan for Solid Waste Management in Nigeria;
vi) Define the required attitudinal changes and create an enabling environment for their realisation;
vii) Promote public education and enlightenment on Environmental Sanitation;
viii) Establish appropriate sanctions and enforcement mechanisms;
ix) Establish indicators and assess performance and service standards in sanitation related public and private institutions/organisations;
x) Determine funding requirements and identify sources of fund for sustainable Environmental Sanitation programmes.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION
i) How can local government environmental inspection officer coordinate the activities of all Stakeholders involved in Environmental Sanitation and streamline their roles?
ii) Can it be possible to strengthen the capacity of all institutions and Agencies involved in Environmental Sanitation programmes?
iii) Can the study help to develop healthy human habitation and reduce the incidence of Environmental Sanitation related diseases?
iv) Can it bring about achievement of positive attitudinal changes in people towards sound Environmental Sanitation?
v) Can the study also, encourage research and development, define local standards and establish database on Environmental Sanitation?
vi) Can one identify local funding mechanisms for Environmental Sanitation in Nigeria?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0: Local government environmental inspection officer cannot coordinate the activities of all Stakeholders involved in Environmental Sanitation and streamline their roles.
H1: Local government environmental inspection officer cancoordinate the activities of all Stakeholders involved in Environmental Sanitation and streamline their roles.
H0: It is impossible to strengthen the capacity of all institutions and Agencies involved in Environmental Sanitation programmes.
H1: It is possible to strengthen the capacity of all institutions and Agencies involved in Environmental Sanitation programmes.
H0: The study cannot help to develop healthy human habitation and reduce the incidence of Environmental Sanitation related diseases.
H1: The study can help to develop healthy human habitation and reduce the incidence of Environmental Sanitation related diseases.
H0: The study cannot bring about achievement of positive attitudinal changes in people towards sound Environmental Sanitation.
H1: The study can bring about achievement of positive attitudinal changes in people towards sound Environmental Sanitation.
H0: The study does not also, encourage research and development, define local standards and establish database on Environmental Sanitation.
H1: The study also, encourage research and development, define local standards and establish database on Environmental Sanitation.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This blog is dedicated to environmental health in Nigeria, the effort of stakeholders in reviving environmental health management and practice in Nigeria. This blog will also serve as an avenue where development of environmental health issues in Nigeria would be shared;=
- SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study is centered on assessment of routin sanitary inspection by environmental health officer in local government using Ivo local government Ebonyi state as a case study.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Despite the limited scope of this study certain constraints were encountered during the research of this project. Some of the constraints experienced by the researcher were given below:
i. TIME: This was a major constraint on the researcher during the period of the work. Considering the limited time given for this study, there was not much time to give this research the needed attention.
ii. FINANCE: Owing to the financial difficulty prevalent in the country and it’s resultant prices of commodities, transportation fares, research materials etc. The researcher did not find it easy meeting all his financial obligations.
iii. INFORMATION CONSTRAINTS: Nigerian researchers have never had it easy when it comes to obtaining necessary information relevant to their area of study from private business organization and even government agencies. Ivo local government environmental inspection officers find it difficult to reveal their internal operations. The primary information was collected through face-to-face interview getting the published materials on this topic meant going from one library to other which was not easy.
Although these problems placed limitations on the study, but it did not prevent the researcher from carrying out a detailed and comprehensive research work on the subject matter.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
For the purpose of this Policy document, Environmental Sanitation is defined as the principles and practice of effecting healthful and hygienic conditions in the environment to promote public health and welfare, improve quality of life and ensure a sustainable environment.
The essential components of Environmental Sanitation include:
i) Solid waste management;
ii) Medical waste management;
iii) Excreta and sewage management;
iv) Food sanitation;
v) Sanitary inspection of premises;
vi) Market and abattoir sanitation;
vii) Adequate potable water supply;
viii) School sanitation;
ix) Pest and vector control;
x) Management of urban drainage;
xi) Control of reared and stray animals;
xii) Disposal of the dead (man and animals);
xiii) Weed and Vegetation Control;
xiv) Hygiene education and promotion.
Environmental Health Officers :Environmental Health Officers (also known as Public Health Inspectors) are responsible for carrying out measures for protecting public health, including administering and enforcing legislation related to environmental health and providing support to minimize health and safety hazards. They are involved in a variety of activities, for example inspecting food facilities, investigating public health nuisances, and implementing disease control.
A Public Health Inspector: A Public Health Inspector (also known as an Environmental Health Officer) is a public employee who investigates health hazards in a wide variety of locations, and will take action to mitigate or eliminate the hazards.
Sanitation: “Sanitation generally refers to the provision of facilities and services for the safe disposal of human urine and feces. Inadequate sanitation is a major cause of disease world-wide and improving sanitation is known to have a significant beneficial impact on health both in households and across communities.
SANITATION SERVICE DEPARTMENT: The Sanitation Services Department is responsible for ensuring a clean environment for healthy and sustainable living in line with the policy of an integrated approach to environmental sanitation and enhancement. The department also organizes seminars on environmental Advocacy/Awareness campaign for the informal sector (artisans, market men and women, taxi drivers etc).
Improved sanitation – refers to the management of human faeces at the household level. This terminology is the indicator used to describe the target of the Millennium Development Goal on sanitation, by the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation.
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