The Environmental Health Officers Association of Nigeria (EHOAN) has stated that 7000 Environmental Health Officers (EHO’s) are insufficient to control the Covid-19 pandemic that is currently ravaging countries across the world including Nigeria.
The national president of EHOAN, San Samuel Akingbehin who disclosed this while briefing newsmen in Abuja, pointed out that the National Executive Council (NEC) of EHOAN decided to pay solidarity visit to the ministries of environment and health, Port health services, National Assembly (NASS) and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to create more awareness on the Covid-19 epidemic .
He stated that since the virus is spreading into the nation, that there is a need for more awareness and to access the level of preparedness of Port health officials in handling the case.
According to him, “We have 7000 officers across Nigeria serving over 200 million Nigerians. This is a far cry from what the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended ratio which is one EHO to 8000 persons but we are having one EHO to over 28,000 people which is grossly inadequate”.
Akingbehin pointed out that EHO’s are ready and willing to give Nigerians the necessary support given its professional calling, which is the prevention of diseases, prolonging life and maintaining good health.
He lamented that what the federal government is presently doing to ameliorate the situation is the recruitment of charlatans that would not serve the nation better, adding that Nigeria had aligned with Commonwealth organisations to standardize and regularize environmental health practice.
The national president added, “This means that environmental health practice is no longer an all-comers affairs, so officers must be qualified, registered and licensed by EHORECON before they can offer environmental health services”.
He pleaded with the federal, state and local governments to look inward by employing qualified EHO’s that would be registered and licensed for effective environmental health services to Nigerians.
On whether Nigeria is fully prepared to tackle Covid-19, he said, “A lot has been done and lot needs to be done in order to make sure that we are at good standing but we cannot handle it right now”.
Also speaking, the acting registrar of Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria (EHORECON), San. Yakubu Baba harped on the need for team work during disasters, stressing that the entire organs dealing with environmental health are collaborating to develop a roadmap in order to address the global challenges caused by Covid-19.
Baba said that the minister of Environment, Dr Abubakar Mahmud had maintained that the environmental workforce must enforce the establishment of environmental health surveillance in all public places like mosque, churches and markets so as to monitor and control Covid-19.
“Irrespective of our constraints, we need to deploy the little workforce we have but we have interfaced with relevant government agencies so that we can collaborate in tackling the problem. Preventive health is domiciled in the ministry of environment but if preventive health fails, the ministry of health can come in”, he added.
He called on the federal government to strengthen environmental health services at different levels of government.