FG tasks environmental officers on hand washing facilities, surveillance

 Dr Mohammad Abubakar, the Minister of Environment has charged Environmental Health Officers in states to beef up routine surveillance on organisations that failed to comply with functional hand washing facilities.

Abubakar gave the charge in Abuja on the commemoration of the 2020 National Environmental Day celebrated on June 25.

This year’s theme is: “Sanitation and Hygiene: Fundamental to COVID 19 Prevention”.

“It has been observed that many establishments do not have full complement of functional hand washing facilities, either soap is missing or there is no water for those who have them.

“Safe and hygienic use of personal protective equipment such as face mask, disinfection/decontamination of surfaces, practice of personal and environmental hygiene, when coughing/sneezing and practice of social distance of two metres, which simply means avoid crowded environment.

“Ensure adequate ventilation, sanitation, hygiene and safety  measures to prevent spread of COVID-19 and other diseases associated with sanitation and hygiene,” he said.

Abubakar said that human activities on the environment had tended to degrade and make the environment untidy and unfit for human habitation because of its unsanitary nature.

He said that in 2005, the Federal Government introduced the National Environmental Sanitation Day to institutionalise sound environmental sanitation practices amongst Nigerians through sustained awareness creation and reward for best practices in environmental sanitation.

To drive this process, he said that the ministry of environment in collaboration with other stakeholders developed a National Environmental Sanitation Policy and its guidelines on pest and vector control, school sanitation, market.

Others include abattoir sanitation, sanitary inspection of premises, solid waste management and safe excreta and sewage disposal in 2005.

Abubakar said that this policy documents had been reviewed and updated by stakeholders to meet the present emerging sanitation challenges.

“Environmental sanitation involves activities aimed at improving or maintaining the standard of basic environmental conditions affecting the well-being of people such as clean and safe water supply.

“Clean and safe ambience air; efficient and safe animal, human and industrial waste disposal; protection of food from biological and chemical contaminants and adequate housing in clean and safe surroundings.

“Adequate implementation of these activities will result in improvement of our national environmental sanitation situation and make a great impact on our national health indicators resulting in a better health status for our people.”

Abubakar said that the Ministry of Environment had carried out the activities such as decontamination/disinfection of motor- parks, markets as a result of COVID pandemic.

Others include decontamination/disinfection of about 200 office premises of Ministries, Department & Agencies (MDAs) in the Federal Capital Territory.

He said the ministry conducted webinar training for the Sanitation Desk Officers in the 36 ministries of environment and FCT on Environmental Health and Habituation Response Activities to the containment of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

“It also conducted capacity building training for environmental health officers in the FCT on decontamination/disinfection and safe burial practices, surveillance by the environmental health officers in the ministry as part of the measures to contain COVID-19 in the country.

“The ministry also liaised with NCDC on the issues of Infection Prevention and Control, especially in the areas of sanitation and hygiene, and with the Federal Ministry of Education on the guidelines for school re-opening among others,’’ he said. 

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