Madam Stella Kumedzro, Volta Regional Environmental Health Officer (REHO), has added to calls for the Department to be resourced to effectively pursue its mandate of enforcing public health regulations.
She said in a statement to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) to mark the 2021 World Environmental Health Day, which is on the theme, “Prioritizing Environmental Health for Healthier Communities in Global Recovery”, that the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with the increase in galamsey activities added to land, air, and water pollution to impact the environment, and livelihoods.
Madam Kumedzro said the fallouts from illegal mining; a major cause of environmental depletion, affected deprived communities the most, causing significant genetic defects.
She noted support levels for the Department and its activities continued to show neglect for its essence, saying, “it has already been determined that the environmental health role is overlooked in most countries across the globe.
“Environmental health is a key part of any comprehensive public health system. Emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic, perianal flooding, quite recently galamsey and it’s associated environmental health challenges such as land, water, and air pollution, and deforestation shows the impact environmental health issues can have on a vulnerable population.
“Pregnant women and their fetuses, children, and the aged are most vulnerable to the above. Those living in under-resourced communities are most exposed to lead-contaminated drinking water in the galamsey areas. Low-income households have been unable to recover from the numerous effects of the covid pandemic,” the REHO stated.
She said as the day was being commemorated, stakeholders must consider the deep role the Department had been saddled with as the pandemic raged on, and resource the workforce “adequately for a total recovery.
“In order for a total recovery, it is critical that this workforce is adequately resourced to ensure public health regulation is enforced.
“We as a country have to ensure that this overlooked but critical environmental health practitioners are supported and highly motivated by paying them their statutory allowances to ensure public health protection now and into the future,” she said.
Madam Kumedzro recognized the support of Dr. Archibald Yao Letsa, Volta Regional Minister, and also the leadership of the regional coordinating council towards the work of the Department.
She also commended the efforts of the staff of the Department in the Region, and encouraged them to consider sacred, their duty to prevent diseases, promote health, and protect lives.
“As we commemorate this day, I will want to urge our hard working environmental health practitioners in the country and specifically the Volta Region to put in their best to save humanity,” she said.
The World Environmental Health Day was established in 2011 by the International Federation of Environmental Health (IFEH) to increase awareness on the health of the environment, and is celebrated each year on September 26.