Environmental Health Staffs of the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) have always been the sole statutory body responsible for the safe burial of paupers and dead bodies suspected or confirmed to be of infectious nature. Though this group of professionals form a core part of the Public Health structures of every health system around the globe, the situation seems to be different in Ghana.
Until 1994, when government under Former President Rawlings moved them to the local government ministry and for that matter the MMDAs, Environmental Health Officers also known as Health Inspectors or Sanitary Inspectors were part of the Ministry of Health. Though their duties remained the same, they continue to lag behind in terms of remuneration, conditions of service, logistical supply, capacity building among others compared to their counterparts in the Ministry of Health though they were all trained by Ministry of Health and regulated by same professional Council, the Allied Health Professions Council of Ghana.
It will be recalled that, government under the leadership of H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo announced a stimulus package including a tax waiver for all health workers and 50% salary increment for front-line health workers of which same has been paid over the past six months. Environmental Health Staffs were unfortunately excluded from this package.
The exclusion of Environmental Health Staffs of the MMDAs is not only discriminatory but also unfortunate and demoralizing. For the records, all the over 200 highly infectious covid-19 dead bodies were buried by Environmental Heath Staffs. The National Covid-19 burial team is composed of the same staff. Government’s continuous disregard for the calls of these staffs to be included in the stimulus package is in bad faith. Through burial of Covid-19 infected dead bodies, one Environmental Health Staff for instance, has been reported to have contracted the virus and infected his wife and child though his services are not appreciated by the government.
I call on the ever listening president of the republic to heed to the calls of this group of professionals and as a matter of urgency ensure their due is given them as it is said in Akan that “edidigya ne muna na enam” to mean, “excluding others from eating comes with frowning of face”. I wish to also call on the president to as part of his commitment in ensuring a cleaner Ghana with a healthier populace, move the barely over 5,000 Environmental Health Professionals back to the Ministry of Health and restore to them all the privileges and support they used to have.
God bless our Homeland Ghana and make our nation great and strong.
By: Mathias M. Ametefe, Environmental Health Officer/Health Promotion Specialist
Email: [email protected] Phone: 0242674600