By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK With the rainy season just around the corner, the prospect of good rains not only means water for humans and animals alike, but it brings in its wake diseases such as malaria, particularly in the north and north-eastern parts of the country. Like they say, prevention is better than cure, it is from this viewpoint that the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi, encourages all environmental health inspectors to mobilize community members in mosquito-affected areas to take the necessary precautions. “As you know that we are approaching the raining season, I want to see to it that all the villages and Omikandas are sprayed against mosquitoes. I am calling upon the communities to render their cooperation with the spraying teams,” explained Kamwi. He urged the public to take the necessary steps to prevent malaria by using mosquito nets, mosquito repellents and to wear protective clothing. So far, the northern town of Ondangwa has received the highest rainfall figure of 70,5mm since the rainy season began. In the surrounding areas, Outjo measured 41,7mm so far this month, while Katima Mulilo in the north-eastern part of the country recorded a total of 31,4mm. Opuwo experienced much lighter showers and measured 10,9mm last week on Friday. Environmental health officials are the very first line of defence when it comes to fighting illnesses and diseases. It turns out that the challenges of this profession are many. These range from the control of malaria, meningitis, polio, cholera, tuberculosis, HIV/Aids, to food quality assurance, port health and border post control, pest control, business licensing and registration, amongst others. Namibia has also been affected by a number of environmental health challenges, namely: that of the recent floods in the Caprivi and Mariental, the Sudan Red Dye in spices, multi-resistant TB in some parts of the country and provision of food to schools and hospitals. Just recently, waste management also had to address the illegal dumping of medical waste at the general landfill site at Swakopmund and also at the Windhoek Central Hospital and Katutura Hospital facilities. In view of these challenges, Kamwi said that environmental health inspectors must carry out their work in a professional and effective manner. “It is therefore your professional and moral duty to perform your tasks, especially the preventative part, to the best of your abilities and capabilities,” said Kamwi. Coupled together with environmental health is the issue of hygiene and sanitation. Since independence, Government has remained committed to providing adequate sanitation to all Namibian citizens. The challenge is for those in the industry to maintain and even improve the sanitation standards in the country. Kamwi called on environmental health officers to see that the rural population have access to adequate sanitation and safe drinking water by the year 2010 and also to be in line with the objectives of Vision 2030. Kamwi made the comments when he officially opened a four-day environmental health inspectors meeting in the capital yesterday.
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