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Health News of Friday, 20 August 2021


Environmental health workers demand better conditions of service

The work of undertakers have been critical since COVID-19 hit the country The work of undertakers have been critical since COVID-19 hit the country

Mr Yaw Akwaa Lartey, National President of Environmental Health Officers Alliance-Ghana (EHOA-GH), has called on the government to make their conditions of service better and ensure adequate safety measures in their work environment.

He said the unsanitary nature of their work, posed substantial health hazards as officers had to contend with burying dead bodies of COVID-19 victims, and other bodies during emergency situations without Personal Protective Equipment.

Mr Lartey made the appeal during the burial of additional two bodies of COVID-19 victims at the Akwatia cemetery, bringing the number of people who have bowed to the virus there to 10.

He said in all those cases, officers performed the burial without the needed logistics for protection, and called for the urgent provision of Wellington boots, vehicles, hearse, motorbikes, nose masks, recruitment of labourers, and other sanitary items.

Mr Lartey, who is also the Acting Environmental Health Officer, Denkyembour District of Eastern Region, said lack of a hearse at Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) and funds to hire a private hearse, compelled officers to hire long KIA vehicles or tricycles to convey dead bodies of COVID-19 victims.

He noted that the unauthorised means of conveying dead bodies posed a serious health risk to both workers and the public, adding, the negligence of allocating funds to the Environmental Health and Sanitation Unit (EHSU) was not helping matters.

According to him, no resources were currently given to the Environmental Unit by MMDAs because EHSU was not a department but has been placed under the central administration of local assemblies with no budget line.

He said since December 1994, the transfer of the then Environmental Health Division of Ministry of Health, to the Ministry of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development (MLGDRD), changed their good conditions of service for the worse.

“In the olden days, health officers were able to arrest and deal with environmental offenders, but since the unit was transferred to MLGDRD, they were limited to operations, which have culminated in the prevailing poor environmental sanitation in communities in Ghana.

Mr Lartey appealed to the government to consider the transfer of the Unit back to the Ministry of Health since environmental health practitioners were core managers for the prevention of diseases.