Ebola: FG to employ 490 environmental health officers to man border communities

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The Federal Government has approved the employment of 490 Environmental Health Officers (EHO) to man border areas to prevent further spread of Ebola disease.

A file photo taken on June 28, 2014 shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. Guinea announced on August 9, 2014 it was closing its land borders with Liberia, Sierra Leone over Ebola fears.    AFP PHOTO

The Minister of Environment,  Mrs Laurentia Mallam, made this known at the inauguration of the Governing Board of Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria (EHORECON) in Abuja on Monday.

Mallam said that the action was part of the Federal Government’s efforts to boost staff strength to check further spread of the deadly disease.

She said that  President Goodluck Jonathan had mandated the ministry to employ professionals to man border areas as well as ports, to ensure that those environments were kept clean.

She, however, acknowledged the fact that the number to be recruited was inadequate, adding that more would be recruited in due course with the approval of the President.

“Ebola is real and the Federal Government is ready to fight it.

“Mr President has made funds available to the Ministry of Health to control further spread of the disease.

“Nigerians, on their part, should be conscious of their environment and keep the environment clean all the time.

“Though the recruitment of additional 490 environmental health officers for this purpose is not even enough because Nigeria is very big and this number cannot reach out to all states.

“I believe that our President is committed to the prevention of this disease.”

 

Mallam said that the ministry was ready to work with the council to ensure the early return of  EHO, with the aim of attaining the level of effectiveness witnessed in the past.

She stressed the need to key into the initiative by states and local councils for the prevention of diseases.

The minister urged the council to report all cases of breach of the code of ethics of the profession by some erring members for discipline.

“We want to re-introduce the environmental health officers’ cadre in our various communities in order to restore environmental sanity.

“My ministry is ready to work with the council to ensure the early return of the environmental health officers with the aim of attaining the level of effectiveness witnessed during the colonial era and beyond.

“I request the council to look into issues as well as reports of breach of the code of ethics of the profession by some members across the nation.

“I want you to carry out full investigation and ensure that integrity is the watchword of practitioners, and any person, no matter how highly placed, found to have compromised should be appropriately sanctioned.

In his remarks, Mr Augustine Ebisike, the Registrar of the council, commended the government for constituting the board.

Ebisike said that the council over 2,000 certificates of registration for practitioners yet to be signed, due to lack a governing board.

He said that the council would improve in its operational capability, to prevent outbreak of diseases in Nigeria.

He also expressed commitment of the council to tackle the outbreak and further spread of the Ebola disease.

Responding, Prof. Oladapo Afolabi, the newly inaugurated board Chairman, urged every stakeholder in the health and environment sectors to play their roles in ensuring that the issue of Ebola was addressed quickly.

Afolabi, who was a former Head of Service of the Federation  and Permanent Secretary of the ministry, appealed to the Federal Government to employ more professionals to meet the WHO requirement of one EHO to 8,000 people.

He said that the council, under his watch, would not hesitate to discipline those who would bring the image of the profession to ridicule.

NAN reports that 11 members were sworn in as new members of the board of the council which operated without a governing board in the last two years.  (NAN)

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