The role of environmental health in public health
Environmental health is a part of public health where the primary goal is preventing disease and promoting people's health. Environmental health is associated with recognising, assessing, understanding and controlling the impacts of people on their environment and the impacts of the environment on the public.
The role of the environmental healthworker, therefore, includes the following functions of public health:
- Improving human health and protecting it from environmental hazards.
- Developing liaison between the community and the local authority, and between the local and higher levels of administration.
- Acting independently to provide advice on environmental health matters;designing and developing plans of action for environmental health.
- Initiating and implementing health/hygiene, sanitation and environmental programmes to promote understanding of environmental health principles.
- Enforcing environmental legislation.
- Monitoring and evaluating environmental health activities, programmes and projects.
You, as a health professional, are very much involved in all of the above except (e) and (f), which are mainly carried out by the district environmental healthworker. However, the community administrator may ask you to help with the enforcement of environmental legislation, if deemed appropriate.