Roles of environmental health officers in primary health care

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Description

CHAPTER ONE

1.0   Introduction

1.1   Background of study

Primary health care, often abbreviated as “PHC”, has been defined as “essential health care based on practical, scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology made universally accessible to individuals and families in the community through their full participation and at a cost that the community and the country can afford to maintain at every stage of their development in the spirit of self-reliance and self-determination” (WHO, 1978). In other words, PHC is an approach to health beyond the traditional health care system that focuses on health equity-producing social policy (WHO, 2008).

The concept of PHC was formulated by the 134 countries that met at the Alma Ata conference in Russia on 12th September 1978, organized under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). According to W.H.O. Primary Health Care means essential health care based on practical, scientifically, sound and socially acceptable methods and technology, made universally accessible to individuals and families in the community through their full participation and at a cost which the country can afford to maintain at every stage of their development in the spirit of self reliance and self determination.

Primary Health Care is based on Four (4) Pillars

  • Teams

Primary Health Care is about health care providers working in teams to improve the continuity of care, reduce duplication and ensure you have access to appropriate health professionals. You are an important member of your health care team and are involved in decisions about your own health.

  • Information

Primary Health Care is about improved coordination of information between health care providers and expanded access to information for Canadians using the health system or seeking health advice. It’s about using tools like electronic health records and diagnostic instruments to improve the quality, access and coordination of health information.

Primary Health Care also encourages greater sharing of information with you so you can make better decisions about your health and health care.

  • Access

Primary Health Care is about improving access, and ensuring that you have greater access to the right services when and where you need them. It recognizes that you need advice, information and care outside of regular office hours.

Primary Health Care stresses providing greater access for more Canadians to health services.

  • Healthy Living

Healthy living focuses on prevention, the management of chronic conditions, encouraging support for self-care and the understanding that factors outside of the health system can influence individual and community health. It is about keeping you well, rather than just treating you after you have become sick.

 

Primary Health Care forms an integral part of the Nigerian social and economic development. It is the first level contact of the individual and community in the national health system, thus bringing health care as close as possible to where people live and work and contributes the first element of a continuing health care process (Akinsola, 1993: 100). Many health professionals were involved in the policy formulation, planning & implementation of PHC in Nigeria; one of such health cadres is Environmental Health Officer [EHO]. Environmental Health Officers are always in the fore-front since the inception of PHC in Nigeria, diagnosing, sieving & coping with the challenges arising from the implementations of PHC.

The Public Health Inspector/Environmental Health Officer (PHI/EHO) is a vital member of the public health team and delivery system. Environmental health practitioners may be known as sanitarians, public health inspectors, environmental health specialists, environmental health officers or environmental health practitioners (Wikipedia, 2012). Environmental health officers are usually employed by local government or state health authorities to advice on and enforce public health standards. However, many are employed in the private sector and in the military as well.

The role of the PHI/EHO includes preventing disease, promoting health and improving the environment through the use of education, consultation, inspection and monitoring techniques and, if necessary, by the enforcement of health legislation. The scope of interest covers food hygiene, insect and rodent control, communicable disease investigation, public accommodation, community care facilities, public recreational facilities, water supply and waste disposal systems, occupational health and safety and environmental pollution – air, water, soil and noise.

Environmental Health Officers (also known as Public Health Inspectors) are responsible for carrying out measures for protecting public health, including administering and enforcing legislation related to environmental health and providing support to minimize health and safety hazards. They are involved in a variety of activities, for example inspecting food facilities, investigating public health nuisances, and implementing disease control. Environmental health officers are focused on prevention, consultation, investigation, and education of the community regarding health risks and maintaining a safe environment (Wikipedia, 2012)

1.2   Statement of Problem

Environmental Health is an integral part of PHC but it is an extensive field. It includes water and basic sanitation, housing, food and nutrition, vector control, control of communicable diseases, disinfection and disinfestations, and control of pollution.

Environmental Health Officers (also known as Public Health Inspectors) are responsible for carrying out measures for protecting public health, including administering and enforcing legislation related to environmental health and providing support to minimize health and safety hazards. They are involved in a variety of activities, for example inspecting food facilities, investigating public health nuisances, and implementing disease control. A graduate Environmental officer also provides leadership and technical expertise in the development of long-range planning to protect and improve the public’s health. To meet these demands, the candidate must be a mature, practical person and possess excellent communication skills, as well as considerable tact and discretion in working with people at all levels within the community. Proficiency is required in problem-solving and decision-making.

Since 1977, when the World Health Assembling endorsed Primary Health Care [PHC] as the new model for building health systems, progress in establishing accessible, affordable and appropriate health care has been painfully slow.

The environmental health officer and the primary health care are required to work together in promoting the health of the populace if the summation made in May 1978, in an international conference which was headed by WHO member states in a town in former USSR called Alma-Ata where 134 nations including Nigeria declared that PHC is the key to attaining ‘health for all in the year 2000’. Hence this study is set to evaluate the roles of environmental health officer in primary health care delivery by answering the following question.

1.3   Research Question

  1. What are the roles of Environmental Health offices in the delivery of primary health care?
  2. Do environmental Health officers play positive roles in the delivery of primary health care in Ijebu Ode local government?

1.4   Significant of Study

This research work would give appropriate evaluation of the roles of environmental health officers in primary health care delivery within Ijebu Ode local government.

These finding will also serve as materials which can be used by health promoters and educators in giving effective health education which will help to broaden people’s knowledge about roles environmental health officers in Ijebu Ode Local government play as regard Primary Health Care delivery.

 

 

1.5   Objectives of Study

1.5.1   Broad Objectives of Study

  • To evaluate the roles of Environmental Health Officers in Primary Health Care, a case study of Ijebu-Ode local government area of Ogun state

1.5.2   Specific objectives of Study

  • To determine if environmental health officers play positive roles in primary health care.
  • To determine if environmental health officer play negative roles in primary health care.

 

 

 

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