The Environmental Health Officer As A Frontline Health Worker In Combating COVID-19
We bring you greetings in the name of Public Health and wish to convey our warm expression of congratulations to HE the President of Ghana for the bold and wining efforts he has devised to break the chain of COVID-19 infections in Ghana.
We stand here today to STATE categorically that we Environmental Health Officers have been frontline Health Workers since the early Cholera and other infectious disease days and continue to brandish the sword of PREVENTIVE HEALTH.
We have not seized to be such in these times of COVID-19 pandemic either.
We represent the entire force of Regional, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Environmental Health Officers and all the hard-working Environmental Health force in this awareness project.
The World Health Organization has spelled out protocols to be exercised by the Environmental Health Officers in its Coordination Chart.
Everywhere in the world, the EHO is being used as a frontline Health worker in curbing this pandemic and other infectious diseases.
All such countries have appreciated the RISKS this PUBLIC HEALTH PRACTITIONERS go through.
It is rather sad that after HE the President of the Republic of Ghana has asked us to remain and work as “those who provide ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AND SANITATION SERVICES” we were knocked off the rewarding or motivating platform.
We can not understand this as we are also HEALTH WORKERS who were unfortunate to suffer a transfer from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in 1995 and then later the Local Government Service where we are struggling to have a National Environmental Health Director to advice the service on our behalf.
We have limped through the hot and cold of situations in the MMDAs till now, and have not been so perturbed by these though they have been frustrating as we have always placed the nation Ghana first.
We hereby state a section of Our roles as frontline health workers in the management of COVID-19 as follows;
1. Assist in surveillance of covid-19 cases.
2. Health education on COVID-19 and other preventable and diseases.
3. Disinfection activities in Hospitals and premises where deaths of suspected or confirmed cases are reported.
4. Monitoring of Market, shopping malls, lorry stations among others to ensure social Distancing and Risk communication.
5. Education of the public on compliance and enforcement of hygiene protocol of COVID-19.
6. Enforcement of Hygiene protocols in Hospitality and other industries.
7. Provision of technical advice to the MMDAs on Waste Management to promote good Sanitation.
8. Control, advice and supervise the collection of Domestic/infectious waste – these calls for protection since almost all Environmental Health Officers in epi-centres have not been supplied with PPEs.
Disinfection and burial of all COVID-19 bodies sanitarily, based on World Health Organization burial protocols should a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 patient die at home or the health facility, it is the Environmental Health Officers who will disinfect the premises.
Meanwhile, this vital force has not been trained and equipped in relation to that.
Due to the neglect of this force, COVID-19 bodies are still lying in the morgues of certain Hospitals, whereas World Health Organization has stated that, COVID-19 corpses should be buried not later than seventy-two (72) hours.
These burials must be supervised by Environmental Health Practitioners but without SPECIAL TRAINING and provision of special PPEs for the BURIAL TEAMS, this cannot and has not been done.
Though Environmental Health Officers have not been trained on how to handle COVID-19 bodies yet, the staff under the MoH have been trained and provided with PPEs to work with.
Why is our case different?
We hereby indulge the Minister of Health, to expand his list of Health workers to the Minister of Finance with the Environmental Health Officers (who are considered as frontline officers as well).
We plead with HE the President of the Republic of Ghana and the Minister of Health not to forget us in a hurry in the provision of motivational packages as we are Health Workers attached to the Local Government Service.
We want to use this opportunity to ask all our precious Ghanaian brothers and sisters to stay home, wash their hands with soap under running water and use hand sanitizers to enable us to break the chain of infection for a BETTER Ghana.
We wish to see you HEALTHY after we defeat COVID-19.
Long live HE the President of Ghana and his group.
Long live Environmental Health.
Long live Ghana.