The dearth of Environmental Health Officers [aka Sanitarians] in the country is a source of great concern to a responsible leadership.
Nigeria is bedeviled with many environmentally based diseases like malaria, cholera, typhoid fever, and other environmental problems like environmental pollution, oil spillage, and others which can be prevented and control via effective utilization of environmental health practitioners at all level of governments, but this is not obtainable due to the emphasis on curative health services by our leaders, hence the state of our environmental health problems.
Also the number of adequate, qualified and employed environmental health practitioners in the country is nowhere near average, couple with fewer universities running environmental health program at undergraduate level.
These and many more makes the Federal University of Technology, Owerri [FUTO] establish the ‘Institute of Environmental Health and Justice’ [IEHJ] to fill the gap in manpower training and development of environmental health practitioners.
The philosophy of the institute is to provide a broad based research, professional training and competencies in Environmental Health and Justice that reflects the emphasis on current national policies and needs, with the vision of being pioneer institute in Nigeria and the ECOWAS sub-region for training of skilled practitioners in Environmental Public Health and Justice.
The objectives of the institute are to run certificates, diploma, first degree, and higher degrees in environmental health and justice; mount special undergraduate programme for environmental health practitioner/officers and other community health care professional; provide technical and advisory service to government ministries, departments and agencies including industries in all areas of environmental health and justice in Nigeria and ECOWAS sub-region; promote effective and international collaborations in the planning of symposia, workshops, seminars including on the job training of environmental health practitioners and other professionals in related fields in Nigeria and ECOWAS sub-region; acts as national and regional institute for the collection and dissemination of technical and scientific information and a focal point for environmental health and justice; promote and coordinate applied research relevant to environmental health and justice in line with national needs; provide environmental and public health laboratory services in accordance with national and international laws, regulations, guidelines, policies, etc.; and liaise with environmental advocates in promoting environmental justice.
To further close the gap of non-specialization, students of higher degrees may choose any of the following areas of specialization, aviation hygiene and sea vessels sanitation; bioremediation and clean technology; environmental and radiation health protection; environmental epidemiology; environmental health laboratory and instrumentation; environmental health physics; environmental health safety and sanitation technology; environmental justice; environmental psychology; environmental toxicology; food hygiene, safety and quality assurance; pollution control management; population health; solid and special wastes management; and vector control and pest management.
IEHJ comes at the right time when environmental health practitioners in Nigeria needs vigorous training in various areas of specialization that will empower them to be more scientific in checkmating the environmental public health problems affecting the country which differ from one region to another, and take their rightful place in the scheme of health services in Nigeria.
The pioneer Director of the institute, Professor Sanitarian A. N. Amadi, an expert in environmental public health, is driving the institute to a greater height; we should all join hands and support him for the development of FUTO, and the nation at large.
Mohammed Sani Garba, New Hospital Road,Kano