The role of Environmental Health in the prevention of illnesses and promotion of well-being cannot be gain said as 16% of global disease burden is attributable to Environmental Health issues, the Cabinet Secretary for health Sicily Kariuki has said.
The Cabinet Secretary said that this calls for greater focus on the quality of training; adequate numbers of health professionals and skill set mix; providing continuous professional development as a vital component of human resources for health.
She said, through statutory regulatory Boards and Councils, the Ministry has continually conducted regulation of training and practice to develop a competent, responsive and highly skilled health workforce that will deliver quality, accessible and affordable healthcare to all Kenyans in line with our constitution.
In a speech read on her behalf by Dr. Eva Njenga, Chair, Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council (KMPDC), during the formal accreditation of Mount Kenya University to offer Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Health, the Minister said Public Health Officers trained by MKU will form a critical component of the skilled health workforce in Kenya. Public Health Officers training have a direct role in addressing food safety concerns like the recent red alert. The Officers will equally address the health challenges posed by tobacco use and tobacco products and the disease outcomes such as cancers and respiratory infections.
She emphasized that every Public Health Officer and Technician practicing in Kenya must be registered and licensed with the Public Health Officers and Technicians’ Council of Kenya as stipulated in the Public Health Officers (Training, registration and Licensing) Act No. 12 of 2013. The Council is also vested with the mandate of regulating the practice.
“Today’s ceremony therefore, marks an important milestone in compliance with the regulation of training standards for Public Health officers and Technicians in Kenya. I am glad to report that the Public Health Officers and Technicians Council has inspected the Mount Kenya University – Main Campus and it has met the requirements for accreditation to train Public Health Officers at degree level,” she said.
She added, “It is my hope that the University to continually improve the standards of training in partnership with the Public Health Officers and Technicians Council in pursuit of skilled Public Health Officers and Technicians in the Country. Moreover, I expect the Council to provide a supportive role to the University in moving forward. I challenge the University to replicate compliance at the Main campus to all other learning centers and satellite campuses offering programmes in Environmental health”.
She urged the Council, the Mount Kenya University and all other stakeholders to guarantee potential employers of skilled competent workforce while assuring the Public of quality Public health service delivery.
“On its part, the National Government will continue to provide an enabling environment and policy support for health workforce training in Kenya. Through collaboration with County Governments, we continue to provide practicum and internship facilities in our hospitals,” said Kariuki.
During the colorful occasion attended by Senior Health Ministry Officials and the MKU fraternity lead by Vice Chancellor, Prof. Stanley Waudo, Dr. Njenga on behalf of the Cabinet Secretary also launched the curriculum for the Environmental Health Degree program.
Simon K. Kimani, Chairman- Public Health Officers and Technicians Council said as a Council, it has been their mandate and duty to offer technical and professional support towards full programme accreditation of all Public/Environmental Health programmes in all institutions of higher learning in Kenya. “It is therefore a privilege to for me and the entire Council to come here and witness the first institution of higher learning being granted this accreditation. This accreditation for the B.Sc. Environmental Health programme in Mount Kenya University is indeed a testimony that partnership and meaningful collaboration yield positive results for the growth of the Public Health profession in our Country,” said Kimani.
He said on behalf of all Council members, it is his belief that the accreditation of the programme only marks an initial step in the improvement of quality training for Public Health Officers and not an end in the enhancement and adherence to training standards.
“As we celebrate this milestone today, the Council remain committed to the Government’s big four agenda particularly the attainment of Universal Health Coverage through production of quality Human Resources capital for Health in adequate numbers as a gateway to promoting accessible and affordable quality health care services in Kenya. Towards this end, PHOTC in partnership with the Universities and Colleges will continue to implement minimum training standards to bridge the current shortage in health workforce particularly at the community level. Our country will be able to achieve Universal Health Coverage by supporting and empowering critical community health units through promoting public health preventive services thereby cutting the diseases burden at the primary health care level. This will translate to more resource savings in curative care services for the country, a healthy Kenyan population, more man hours used in building the Kenyan economy and therefore creation of more employment opportunities for our youth,” the Council boss said.
Kimani added, “Currently in our country, the Public Health service delivery is experiencing great challenges than any other time before; the ever-increasing risk of adulterated food supplies, contaminated community water sources, extensive air pollution, poor waste management practices, risky health and safety work practices and a sudden increase in non-communicable diseases such as cancer in our county urgently calls for addressing the shortage of skilled and competent Public Health professionals to continuously carry out public health surveillance at the critical community level so as to sustain the gains made in disease prevention and control.”
MKU Vice Chancellor, Prof. Stanley Waudo said that now the university will focus on laying out strategies focusing on seeing to it that graduates who will come out of the University will be able to pursue Masters and PhDs in Environmental Health Program. He said in future the Program will be rolled out to other MKU campuses in and outside the country.