Considering the dearth of manpower in environmental health in Nigeria, the Environmental Health Officers Registration council of Nigeria [EHORECON], in collaboration with UNICEF, Federal Ministry of Environment develops a curriculum for the training of Environmental health practitioners at B.Sc/B.Tech levels in Nigerian universities.
Right now in Nigeria, it is only Federal University of Technology Owerri; [FUTO] is running the programme, with plan by University of Ilorin to start soon.
What you will read below, is the rationale behind training of environmental health officers at degree level, which I copiously copy from the 24th public lecture handbook of Federal university of technology, Owerri, titled ‘Environmental health and Sanitation as a panacea to disease control and prevention’, by Prof Agwu Nkwa Amadi.
It will serve; I am sure a source of information to aspiring fellow environmental health officers that wants further their education to B.sc/B.tech and higher levels.
TRAINING AND FUNCTIONS OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH PRARCTITIONERS [EHP]/ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH OFFICERS [EHO]
The training of an EHO/EHP is rigorous, like medicine and surgery, pharmacy, medical laboratory sciences, etc. The overall objective of the B.Sc/B.Tech [environmental health] degree programme is to contribute towards the improvement of health of the Nigerian population and its quality of life. It is, therefore, expected that at the end of the course, an environmental health graduate should have acquired knowledge, skills and attitudes to achieve the following specific objectives [averagely, the training of an EHO takes average of seven years comprising five years of training in university one year of internship and one year of youth services]:
Upon satisfactory completion of the programme in environmental health, graduates will be able to…
I. characterize major sources of chemical or microbial contamination of environmental media, viz, water, air, soil and food;
II. identify current regulatory programmes and legislative authorities directed at prevention and control of contamination of environmental media including water, air, soil and food;
III. describe major processes in human and natural environments that affect transport, dispersion, transformation, and accumulation of hazardous agents and identify characteristics of the agent, the environment and the conditions of release that influence the environment and distinguish key factors in a given scenario;
IV. characterize mechanism and processes by which toxic or infectious hazards reach target populations and predict the most significant exposure pathways in a given scenario;
V. describe and apply means by which exposures of target populations to toxic or infectious hazard can be measured and]or modeled; indicate how these approaches would depend upon the properties of specific contaminants; and identify sources and magnitudes of uncertainties associated with these characterization;
VI. describe and apply means of preventing or controlling adverse effects of contamination of environmental media [water, air, soil and food] on public health that are available to local, state and federal regulatory agencies or the private sector; and
VII. Communicate effectively with the public and professionals regarding potential public health impacts, mitigation strategies and associated uncertainties related to chemicals, or microbial contamination of environmental media [water, air, soil and food].
I To describe and apply the scientific principles involved in the identification, analysis and in providing solution to environmental health problems.
II To identify the communication and group dynamic processes necessary to effect changes.
III To describe the investigative or monitoring processes necessary to identify the environmental health problems in a community.
IV To describe in detail the steps in planning and implementing an appropriate environmental health programme aimed at solving these problems.
V To describe the basic knowledge of physical, sociological and biological theories, concepts and principle principles and application of these in the practice of environmental health.
VI To describe in detail the list of the commonest communicable diseases in the country, their mode of transmission and indicate methods of controlling the biological and physical environment so as to prevent them.
VII To list the public and Environmental Health laws of the country and explains their rational application so as to encourage citizen to voluntary compliance.
I To perform accurately, standard laboratory tests employed in the monitoring of the physical environment, water supply, sewage disposal and food sanitation and hygiene.
II To design a satisfactory graphic representation of the water treatment plant of a rural community; an urban community.
III To design a satisfactory graphic representation of the sewage disposal and treatment plant of an urban community.
IV To initiate and undertake actions capable of preventing diseases and prolong lives.
V To identify an ill person within the community and make appropriate referral after initial first aid management.
VI To assume leadership role during times of emergency within the community
VII To manage resources adequately and perform required administrative functions.
VII To be able to recognizes an epidemic and design management strategy for its control.
1 To demonstrate an attitude that places premium on team work, accepting and performing leadership and followership role with equal effectiveness.
2 To demonstrate an attitude of pride in the contribution of his profession to the health of the nation and hence continually seek self-education and improved effectiveness.
3 To demonstrate an attitude of scientific enquiry in relation to every aspect of his professional activity, never taking anything for granted nor prematurely jumping to conclusions.
A carreer in Environmental health is both rewarding and challenging. Thus graduates of the discipline will be very suitably equipped to take on gainful employment in the following areas.
i Public health related agencies and environmental sanitation parastasals.
ii pollution monitoring and controls outfits.
iii Disease surveillance units/establishments
iv Research institutions
v Public health department of state and federal ministries of health, public utilities, etc.
vi Agencies concerned with food inspection, standards, disease control vis-à-vis immunization programmes, etc.
vii Private establishments and independently operated laboratories/ and referrals units for the analysis of environmental samples such polluted water, food [cooked], confectionaries/ bakeries, etc.
viii Establish private outfits in different areas of environmental health management..
The roles and functions of graduates of environmental health
Graduate employment opportunities will be varied and would include, among others, employment
by international organizations, government agencies as well as non-governmental organizations. Graduate of the B.Sc/B.Tech Environmental Health programme will be adequately prepared to perform the following roles and functions:
i Monitoring and management of environmental safety and protection at higher level of practice.
ii Initiation, implementation and evaluation of environmental health services.
iii Involvement in designing and inspecting of all types of premises and situations for environmental, occupational and sanitation requirement and compliance.
iv provision of technical advice in the enactment and enforcement of laws, regulations and by-laws relevant to public and environmental health.
v Conducting research activities on communities and the environmental health problems and suggesting solutions to the problems.
vi Participating in the surveillance and control of communicable diseases at local, state, national and international levels.
vii participation in the formation and development of health policies for the management and improvement of public health and its sustainability.
ix Facilitation of change towards positive health and its sustainability.
x production of ICT in the relevant areas of public health.
xi planning teaching and training programmes for environmental health personnel, and other related health workers and community members
xii Using appropriate intervention measures to educate the community on issues that relate to environmental and public health.
xiii Engagement in continuing education and research in public health.