The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Health Sector Environmental Health Practitioners Association–Ghana (HeSEHPAG), a registered professional Association for Environmental Health Officers practicing under the Ministry of Health (MOH) and its Agencies, and are regulated by the Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC) in accordance with the Health Professions Regulatory Bodies Act, 2013 (Act 857);
Wishes to laud the Government for its proposed Establishment of Fourteen (14) Medical Waste Treatment Facilities across the country to effectively manage COVID-19 infectious waste as well as carry out fumigation and disinfection of public places including,airports, markets, schools, hospitals, offices etc. with funds that would be accrued from the COVID-19 Health Levy.
The NEC of HeSEHPAG has sighted a Press Release from the Ministry of Finance (MOF) dated 19th March, 2021 that highlighted the details of the usage of funds from the COVID-19 Health Levy as listed on page 75 of the 2021 budget statement.
According to the Press Release, “Government has planned to establish fourteen (14) medical waste treatment facilities across the country for safe disposal of medical waste in collaboration with the private sector as well as planned fumigation and disinfection of public places including airports, markets, schools, hospitals, offices etc.”
As a very Key Sector Player, to this end, the NEC is lauding the Government and sincerely express our profound gratitude to the Ministry of Health(MOH) for advising the Government to take this bold step to recognize and strengthen the work of the Environmental Health Officers and the Environmental Health Profession at the Health Facility level and Medical Waste Treatment Facilities yet to be constructed, to ensure effective and efficient disposal of infectious waste generated from COVID-19 Treatment Centres and other wastes from the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent any associated effects on the environment, human health or public health and safety.
Furthermore, the NEC is calling on the Government and the Ministry of Health (MOH) to allocate a substantial amount of the funds from the COVID-19 Health Levy to Establish a National Environmental Health and Sanitation Research Centre (NEHSRC) under Ministry of Health (MOH) in Ghana immediately.
The NEC strongly believe and is convinced beyond reasonable doubt that, the NEHSRC will help MOH and its Agencies, Environmental Health Professionals/Practitioners (EHPs) and other interested Actors in the Environmental Health and Sanitation and Public Health Sectors to conduct scientific research and projects to determine the impact of the COVID-19 on Human Health, Environment, Occupational Health, Food Hygiene and Safety, Port Health Services and other specialized areas of the Environmental Health and Sanitation Sector that are of much importance and concern during this COVD-19 era.
Moreover, the NEHSRC among its duties will carry out comprehensive assessment of various categories and classification of wastes in Ghana that has been generated during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the determinants of COVID-19 spread, the adherence and compliance of the prescribed Environmental Health and Hygiene measures and protocols by community members, where and who needs handwashing and sanitary facilities to ensure effective practicing of hand washing could be discovered to help curtail the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated health and environmental implications.
Lastly, the NEC also wishes to state emphatically without fear of contradiction that, Environmental Health is a profession that requires formal training, and is regulated in Ghana under the Health Professions Regulatory Bodies Act, 2013 (ACT 857) i.e., the Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC), hence technical personnel that would be recruited to handle the proposed Medical Waste Treatment Facilities must be registered and licensed Environmental Health Officers as enshrined in the HealthCare Waste Management Policy (HCWMP), 2020 by MOH. In addition, the fumigation and disinfection of public places and schools etc. against the COVID-19 disease must be strictly supervised by registered and licensed Environmental Health Officers as well.