Minister of Health hails environmental health practitioners amid Covid-19 pandemic


HEALTH Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has highlighted the importance of environmental health practitioners as the world marks the ninth World Environmental Health Day amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mkhize delivered the keynote speech for the World Environmental Health Day webinar on Tuesday.

Reflecting on South Africa’s ongoing fight against Covid-19, Mkhize said environmental health practitioners have played a critical role in bringing the pandemic to the country.

“In the early stages of the epidemic, the critical role played by environmental health practitioners in disease prevention and response had already become apparent. Under the International Health Regulations of 2005, environmental health practitioners at points of entry had the unenviable task of preventing the impossible importation of Covid-19 as the first line of defense and protecting citizens from risk. for health resulting from travel,” said the minister.

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With South Africa being a transit hub for many African countries, the role of officials at ports of entry has been central to the country’s response to Covid-19.

“The measures implemented by our port health officials at the point of entry have helped not only to delay the introduction of the disease, but also to strengthen its preparedness for the inevitable entry of the disease into our country,” Mkhize said.

According to the 2006 WHO report, South Africa has a high environmental disease burden, with 16% of all deaths in the country estimated to be related to the state of the environment.

Environmental health science is based on the premise that prevention is better than cure because the profession is concerned with key environmental factors that are at the heart of public health dynamics.

This was evident amid the response to the Covid-19 pandemic where environmental health practitioners became even more critical.

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