Okoli advocates robust investment in environmental health

By Debbie Nduba

Greater investment in environmental health system should be a prerequisite in order to prevent pandemic, the immediate-past Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS), National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Prof. Grace Okoli, has said.

Okoli, who is the study centre director, Wuse II, stated this while presenting a paper at the 53rd Annual General Meeting/Scientific Conference and Foundation Laying Ceremony of the Corporate Headquarters of Environmental Health Officers Association of Nigeria (EHOAN), in Abuja.

The conference was held under the chairmanship of Chief (Barr.) Sharon Ikeazor, the Honourable Minister of State for Environment.

Speaking on the topic, “Global Pandemic Prevention and Control-Environmental Health: An Essential Partner,” the professor of environmental health said investing in essential governmental environmental health services through dedicated resources will create an effective environmental health system that proactively protects communities and helps everyone attain good health.

“Federal, state, local, and tribal governments should adopt standard approaches to ensuring environmental health equity, protections and access for all, particularly vulnerable and at-risk populations.

“As a fundamental component of a comprehensive public health system, environmental health works to advance policies and programmes to reduce chemical and other environmental exposures in air, water, soil and food to protect residents and provide communities with healthier environments.

“Environmental health protects the public by tracking environmental exposures in communities and potential links with disease outcomes, she stated.

To achieve a healthy community, Okoli stressed the need for homes to be safe, affordable, and healthy for families to gather, while saying workplaces, schools, and child-care centres should be free of exposures that negatively impact the health of workers or children.

She further said the federal government can help build an effective and strong environmental health system by creating an integrated infrastructure to collect and track crucial information, developing a well-trained and highly skilled workforce, providing ample and sustainable funding from diverse sources, among other.

The erudite professor also said governmental environmental health services are not a luxury but essential to providing basic needs to the public such as safe drinking water, clean air, lead poisoning prevention, climate change adaptation, and more.