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“Environmental health is key”

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“The deputy minister of Health is also aware of the lack of representation of environmental health in the current NHI setting”

THE NORTHERN Cape Department of Health has indicated that greater strides still need to be made in the provincial health industry in order to provide adequate health care to residents of the Province.

This is according to the MEC for Health, Mase Manopole, who was addressing the Second Municipal Health Summit in Kathu yesterday.

Issues surrounding resources, the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill and the importance of environmental health practitioners were some of the topics addressed during the summit.

Manopole pointed out that there are still some areas in the health industry that need to be improved.

“The Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, during the commemoration of World Environmental Health Day at Platfontein Lodge in Kimberley recently, implored us to continue to place high on the health agenda the following priorities – universal health coverage, early planning on epidemic preparedness, the strengthening of infrastructure, and HIV/Aids and TB strategies and intervention.

“The deputy minister of Health is also aware of the lack of representation of environmental health in the current NHI setting. It is therefore upon us to advocate for the inclusion of environmental health in the NHI discussions going forward,” said Manopole.

She pointed out that municipal health services played a crucial role in curbing “burden” diseases.

“Our Province is suffering under a high rate of maternal and infant mortality, tuberculosis and HIV and Aids. Environmental health can play a very crucial role in addressing these issues and lowering the rate of opportunistic infections that may threaten the lives of our people.

“People with compromised immune systems, older people, babies and young children are very susceptible to conditions related to poor sanitation, contaminated water, food and vector-borne diseases and diseases related to unhealthy living conditions,” said Manopole.

She said that the provision of adequate health care was the responsibility of everyone.

“An environment that is not harmful to the health and well-being of human beings is a right enshrined in our Constitution and it is the duty of each and every district municipality in the Northern Cape, with the support of sector partners such as the Department of Health, both national and provincial, Salga and the Department of Water and Sanitation.

“We need to work tirelessly to ensure that good living, working, playing and learning environments are achieved and maintained in our Province. Poor living conditions, outbreaks of disease, polluted environments and dirty towns can prevent our province from achieving its potential.

“Municipal health services can play a vital role in removing these ‘stumbling blocks’ and pave the way to prosperity, good health outcomes and a sense of well-being for everyone in this Province.”

Manopole said that there were already plans in place to address these challenges.

“It will be totally unacceptable if we repeat this again in 2020. We need tangible solutions to be implemented with a matter of urgency. I made an undertaking during my maiden budget speech that I will establish the provincial health council structure to ensure monitoring and oversight of health services in the Province and ensure that all our people receive fair and equitable health services,” Manopole concluded.