ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH: THE MOST IMPORTANT, YET MOST NEGLECTED ASPECT OF HEALTH
ONWE, IFEANYI EZE
Health has been defined by WHO (1948) as a the complete state of physical, mental and social well being of a man and not merely an absence of disease or infirmity.
The aspects of health can be seen as preventive, curative and rehabilitative. Preventive health bothers on stopping or impeding any known or potential propensity for the occurrence of disease of infection. Curative health bothers on the treatment and healing of the already infected persons.
This occurs only when disease has already been established to exist in a bid to restore the health status of those infected. It can be of three levels viz: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary levels of health care. Rehabilitative health bothers on thorough restoration of both healthy living, and social value or stratification of the infected persons in the society.
The prime message of public health has been ‘Prevention is better than cure ‘. No matter how true this message is, it has almost been looked at by all as a mere talk. What a deception! This depicts that preventive health, though, most important of all has lacked sense of priority by all and sundry.
An aspect of public health which majors on preventive health is ‘Environmental Health’. Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria (EHORECON) in 2002 Act 11 of its establishment defined Environmental Health as the management of all those factors in man’s physical, biological and chemical environment which exercise or may exercise deleterious effect on his complete physical, mental and social well being and survival.
This implies that for health to be fully attained and achieved, Environmental Health is a sine qua non.
Environmental health in a bid to achieve its target bothers on the following major areas:
– Provision of potable (wholesome) water supply which is adequate in quality and quantity.
– Environmental sanitation and sustainability
– Provision of food and nutrition
– Health education
– Pollution control
– Personal hygiene
– Environmental impact Assessment
– Practical Premises Inspection
– Wastes management
– Pest control
– Vector control
It is heartbreaking to note that preventive measures is mostly employed during any outbreak of communicable diseases and immunization programmes. Apart from these government at various levels normally pay deaf ears to this very vital aspect of health, the environmental health issues. Also individuals due neglect their own roles of environmental sanitation, they only do little when compelled to do so. What a tragedy.
WHY THE NEGLECT
Preventive health is mostly neglected owing to the following reasons among others.
– Lackadaisical attitude of the government: Government at all levels does not give due priority to this aspect of health because it is erroneously believed that government is everybody, hence, shifting the responsibility from one level to another affirming the saying that everybody is nobody.
– Selfish interest of some sanitarians: Some sanitarians are too money conscious such that they will choose to betray the Professional Prestige due to their unsatisfying quest for money. Embezzlement of funds has eaten deep in some in that, bribery has taken upper hand in their life in place of the official discharge of their duties. What a sponsored poverty.
– Lack of support by the government: Judicial arm has sometimes delayed prosecution of some sanitary offences either due to strike or selfish interests. The executive arm on its own has also failed at times by not sending police men to accompany sanitarians during premises inspection since some people do not allow sanitarians to carryout their duties.
– Lack of qualified personnel: Due to limited number of trained and licensed sanitarians environmental sanitation and practical premises inspection have been variously denied due attention.
– Unnecessary interference of some top politicians: Some politicians while convicted of any sanitary offence will use their office to influence judgment to their own favour, hence, discourages the sanitarians in the fair discharge of their official duties.
THE WAY OUT – REMEDIES
– Since every problem has a solution, it is worthwhile holding the bull by the horns. The underlisted suggestions among others will help to combat the aforenamed causes of the neglects given to this all important aspect of health.
– Employment of more qualified sanitarians: Unaguably, employment of more qualified sanitarians will actually favour the prevalence of preventive health, because they will help to effect the preventive packages or programmes in the community.
– Supervision of activities of the sanitarians by the council: The professional body overseeing the activities of the registered Health officers, (EHO RECON) should as a matter of necessity regulate the conduct of its members using its acts and ethics to check the excesses in the discharge of their duties.
– Health Education: This, they say s the key to healthy living. In line with that saying, more efforts should be intensified to health educate people especially rural dwellers on the issues that bother their health.
– Rejunevation of Practical Premises Inspection: Practical inspection is almost an old story. There is every need that sanitarians go back to their duty posts and discharge their official duties without fear and favour, thus, promoting environmental sanitation and sustainability.
– Due supports by the government: Government at all levels should intensify its efforts towards rendering due supports to the preventive aspect of health by releasing the funds needed to execute any preventive health packages. Moreso, the executive arm of the government should mobilize the police officers to accompany the sanitarians when and where necessary during house inspection. The judicial arm should as well do all it can to prosecute sanitary offences without delay to enhance prompt abatement of nuisances following detection during premises inspection.
As a way of summarizing this treatise, it is worthy of note that since every disease has either a causative agent (pathogens) or a risk factor, it is better to terminate such diseases at the early stage by employing both epidemiological designs and preventive approach to combat its occurrence. Hence, justifying the prime message of public health mentioned albinitio. Remember! No disease, no treatment, no rehabilitation.
All hands must be on deck to prevent diseases since health is both wealth and everybody’s top priority in life. Personal hygiene and environmental sanitation should be encouraged to the highest level in a bid to promote health, save life and prevent diseases. The best approach to curb the rate of disease occurrence is preventive measure. Health for one is health for all. Think, Act, Stay, Live healthy and wealthy. God Bless You.
Reference this post:
Onwe, I.E. (2016). Environmental health: the most important, yet most neglected aspect of health. Retrieved from http://freemanbizng.com/environmental-health-important-yet-neglected-aspect-health/ on (date of accessing this post).