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(EHCON) reviews guidelines to address environmental health challenges

By Ojugbele Omotunde

The Environmental Health Council of Nigeria (EHCON) has started reviewing its policies in order to reform the nation’s environmental health system and address new environmental health issues.

This was said on Wednesday, October 11, 2023 in Abuja at the technical review meeting on guidelines for environmental health practice in the nation.

Dr. Yakubu Baba, the council’s Registrar, emphasized that the main objective was to increase public health.

Climate change has become a reality, according to Baba, who listed the COVID-19 pandemic and other developing and reemerging challenges in environmental health. He continued by saying that environmental health is in a good position to make a big contribution to the problem of climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resilience.

As a result, he stated, “These are the problems that are emerging and reemerging, and we are expecting another emerging and reemerging sickness. We have to get ready, get the tools we need, and also strengthen the ability of our troops to be able to confront these challenges.

Baba mentioned 14 crucial instruments that would be evaluated during the meeting, including the National Environmental Health Practice Regulation and the monitoring, evaluation, and surveillance system.

The council’s strategic plan, a review of the National Institute of Environmental Health, the development of tools for monitoring and evaluating practice, and the definition of the roles and responsibilities of environmental health practitioners are among the others.

According to the registrar, the council wants to have a tool that would support its members and reenergize environmental health practice in Nigeria.

“These guidelines decide our continued existence as practitioners in light of the Council’s Act, which provides it significant authority to control the practice of environmental health professions, but without these tools, we are observing several gaps.

“The key is to support the practitioners while simultaneously reviving environmental health practice and achieving international standards.

“As part of our rebranding process for environmental health in Nigeria, the aim is also to strengthen the practice and reposition the profession,” he stated.

The National Environmental Health Practice Regulation was last reviewed in 2015, according to the registrar, who also said the meeting would evaluate the regulation’s review to include new issues that weren’t previously included in it.

He added that the document on the standard definition of the roles and responsibilities of environmental professionals in Nigeria was necessary in order to eliminate conflicts and overlaps among practitioners at the local, state, and federal levels.

The meeting’s chief facilitator, Dr. Shehu Muhammad, said that the time of practitioners who were adept at all trades but not all of them was over.

He claimed that right now, specialization is the main goal, with the goal of producing environmental health practitioners who are knowledgeable and skilled in just one or two fields.

“As facilitators, it is our responsibility to make sure that public health is improved. We also need to consider the strategies we employ to execute environmental health legislation in the various states, identify any gaps in the laws, and make sure to close those gaps.

“Update the regulations so they can address all environmental health concerns in our environment, such as newly emerging diseases.

In order to better equip experts to combat infections, he stated, “part of what we are doing here is developing documents.”

A cross-section of the public and private sectors, including academia, local, state, and federal governments, attended the gathering.

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