This year’s World Environmental Health Day was yesterday celebrated in Accra.
The event being the first to be held in the country was organised by the Accra Metropolitan Public Health Department (MPHD) of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA).
It was on the theme: Prioritising Environmental Health for Healthier Communities in Global Recovery.
The main durbar was proceeded with a float through some principal streets of Accra with placards bearing inscriptions, ‘Vaccinate your pets’, ‘Wash your hands with soap under running water’, ‘eat hot food’, ‘stop open defecation’, ‘stop burning refuse on premises’ and ‘sanitation department neglected for too long’.
The Dean, School of Natural and Environmental and Sustainable Development, Professor Edward D. Wiafe, speaking at the ceremony urged policy makers and development agents to understand the gendered impacts of the causes of environmental health and factor same in policy and development planning and implementation for it to serve as a blue print for Metropolitan Municipal and District Assemblies, (MMDAs) to implement.
He stressed the need for government to re-look at the management and governance of human settlements to strengthen resilience and preparedness towards gaining total support for local recovery strategies.
Prof. Wiafe indicated the need to marshall the required Political will to make environmental health a priority to make communities safer, resilient and sustainable with the appropriate technological measures.
“There is the need to promote urban forestry by incorporating tree planting in the design and development of cities for beautification and environmental services in order to promote carbon sequestration and help reduce temperature and prevent soil sealing and also enhance soil infiltration which reduces flooding,” he added.
The Director, MPHD, Florence D Kuukyi said the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak had taught the country a great lesson that called for a collaborative effort to address the shortfalls.
She called for more support for environmental health officers who despite their sacrifices to prevent the outbreak and spread of diseases are not recognised by society just because the department was torn between three ministries namely Ministries of Health, Sanitation and Water Resource and Ministry of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development, adding “we want to be part of the country’s economy that is why we are asking for a permanent directorate, currently we do not know where the department belongs.”
The Managing Director of Zoomlion, Greater Accra, Morgan Acquah urged the environmental health officers to increase awareness on the one million bins initiative currently being implemented by his outfit
This he said would help facilitate the prompt collection and disposal of refuse in their communities towards eradicating preventable diseases.
Mrs Esther Jamina of Witties, a non-governmental organisation said the economic and social disruption of COVID-19 had prompted the need to be conscious of the environment and prevent hygiene and sanitation related diseases as much as possible.
This she said called for the implementation of a sustainable hygiene measures to ensure communities were clean, hygienic and disease-free at all times, adding “there is now a high demand for verifiable proofs of quality and safe environmental standards in all facets of our lives, offices, markets, communities and our homes saying the time has come to ensure compliance to such standards to protect lives and nature.”
BY LAWRWNCE VOMAFA-AKPALU