by Mohammed Sani Garba
The 25ns inaugural lecture of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri [FUTO] it will continue to be remembered for a long time for its uniqueness, timeliness and the full attendance it gathers. The conference was held by the ‘Professor of the People’, Professor of Public Health and specialist in environmental health and safety, Head of Department, Public Health and Coordinator, Environmental Health Program, FUTO-Prof AN Amadi entitled ‘Environmental health: the dynamics , application, implications and perspectives in the Nigerian health system “.
In his opening address, the vice rector of the university, prof. CC Asiabaka describes the inaugural lecture as a lecture in which a worthy professor would come to tell the world and academia who he is and what he professed, his contributions to academia and to the development of society through his research, etc.
The professor. Amadi describes environmental health as a multipurpose field of public health that has been defined in various ways; for example, some refer to the relationship between people and the environment, others focus on the abatement / mitigation of risks, still others see it as promoting health and improving the environment, while others extend more widely to the aspect of the environment social and built.
He then stated that environmental health is “complex” or “many things”, an interdisciplinary professional and academic field, a research area and an area of applied public health practice.
Based on these, he argued that environmental health is a basic science of public health practice that deals with technologies of health promotion, disease prevention and life extension through well-organized integrated environmental interventions based on community participation, institutional effort / support and integrated research.
On the dynamics of environmental health in Nigeria, it dates back to 3 periods, pre-independence [1860-1960]; after independence [1969-1999]; and 21ns epoch of the century. In the following period, the Environmental Health Council of Nigeria was established, a practical guide for environmental health professionals was produced, the approval of the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standard
[BMAS] by the National University Commission, among others.
The application of environmental health, said Professor Amadi, is quite broad and concerns the organization of its services which in Nigeria covers 18 components, such as environmental health control of housing and sanitation, epidemiological investigation on disease and control, water management and sanitation, border control, air and port and border crossings, among others. But factors like wrong priorities, lack of political will, preference for curative over preventive health, restriction of decision making to very few professionals, etc. are among the factors currently affecting the performance of environmental health practice in Nigeria.
On the implications on environmental health, prof. Amadi said it is two stages, adequate and inadequate. The second leads to public health implications that include social misery, especially for women, the elderly and children; widespread damage to human health and the survival prospects of children; pollution of the living environment and water resources; and depressed economic productivity and human development.
The former translates into multiplier effects on virtually all aspects of life and the country’s overall development, some of which include decreasing mortality and morbidity rates from hygiene-related diseases; increase in productivity and reduction of poverty, improvement of nutrition and psychophysical growth of children; improvement of enrollment, attendance and academic performance; and increased survival of people living with HIV / AIDS, among others.
On the way to the future, prof. Amadi recommended, among others, the following, environmental health professionals should have enough willpower to do what is right and urgent, decision making in the health sector should be extended by key actors to as many professionals in the field as there are necessary, existing environmental health services should be renewed and updated, new ones should be built.
In his concluding remarks, Vice Chancellor FUTO, appreciated and commended the inaugural speaker for saying all about the subject and his contributions to the field of environmental health practice in Nigeria. He challenged others to come up with their topic so that the conference could be done on a monthly basis.
Attendees expressed delight at the large turnout, which they describe as the largest inaugural conference attended beyond the capacity of the lecture hall, and at the importance of the topic in the development of contemporary Nigeria.
Prof Amadi is a registered and certified healthcare professional, Fellow, Society of Environmental Health, Fellow, Institute Industrial Administration, Associate Member of the Nigeria Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Fellow, Royal Society for Public Health [UK], and an active consultant for various government and private sectors in the country, among others.