FG moves to halt uncoordinated Environmental Health Surveillance system

The Federal Ministry of Environment has pledged to partner with all stakeholders to promote a well-coordinated Environmental Health Surveillance System in the Country.

Mr Charles Ikeah, Director, Pollution Control and Environmental Health, with the ministry, said this at a one-day Stakeholders’ Review/Validation Workshop On Environmental Health Surveillance Data Tools in Abuja.

He said environmental health surveillance system in the country was disjointed, thereby lacking a National framework for coordination and effective data collection and reporting.

This, he noted, was critical for qualitative data collection and management for public health use.

Ikeah said the Environmental Health Surveillance Data reporting tools were designed to enhance continuous collection, analysis and interpretation of environmental health and sanitation-related data.

According to him, a well-coordinated surveillance system can facilitate public health efforts to prevent and control diseases, injuries and disabilities related to the interaction between people and their environment.

He said the ministry had established Sanitation Desks in 36 State Ministries of Environment including FCT, in order to ensure an effective and well-coordinated environmental health surveillance system in Nigeria.

He added that the ministry has also established a Center for Integrated National Environmental Health Surveillance System, for a systematic continuous collection, analysis and interpretation of environmental health and sanitation related data.

“This is needed for the planning, implementation and evaluation of public health practice.

“The system is to among others serve as National Environmental Health and sanitation data base for national planning, actions and monitoring; and an early warning system for impending public health emergencies.

“It will also document the impact of an intervention or track progress towards specified goals, Monitor and clarify the epidemiology of health problems, to allow priorities to be set and to inform public health policies and strategies.

“It will also alert animal health sector on possible zoonosis and Identify environmental risk factors which can cause epidemic and alert the health sector.’’

The director however called on all stakeholders to support the programme by making available any information at their disposal, which were relevant to the success of the programme.

Dr Edwin Isotu-Edeh, National Consultant, Public Health and Environment, WHO Nigeria, said an estimated 12.6 million deaths each year are attributable to unhealthy environments.

According to him, Environmental Health work focuses on addressing root causes of diseases to promote healthier environment, disease prevention, and to influence public policies to address threats to health.

Isotu-Edeh noted that through the years, WHO and its partners had led in the establishment of Multisectoral National Environmental Response Team with 20 representatives of implementing partners to respond to Lassa and other World health emergencies.

He said there has been an establishment of Lassa Fever Green forums in hotspot communities towards institutionalising community sanitation.

He added that the goal of the environmental health surveillance data tools was to operationalise the digitisation of environmental data of public health importance for tracking of SDGs.

“The scope of the Environmental Surveillance Data Modules includes Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Air Quality and Health, Chemicals Safety and eWaste.

“Others are; Environment and Disease Outbreaks, Housing Inspection and Environmental Health and Food Safety.

“ It is necessary for Nigeria to invest in environmental surveillance system achieve good health and sustainable development’’.

The national consultant said every Nigerian deserved to live healthy environment, saying that continuous monitoring of environmental conditions would help prevent diseases outbreaks and achieve a healthy environment.

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