Health officials to help enforce smoking ban

Public health officers will be involved in the enforcement of smoking regulations across the country.

Public Health and Sanitation Minister Beth Mugo said that already, 80 public health officers have been trained as public health prosecutors to strengthen their capacity to enforce the Tobacco Control Act (2007) among other public health statutes.

Mrs Mugo added that a continuing programme has been launched for tobacco enforcers and public health officers, police officers, among others, are involved.

She said that the training would ensure that all towns in the country are free from tobacco smoke.

“With the training already conducted, you should be able to fully implement the law without fear or favour,” she said.

The minister hailed the Nairobi City Council for its efforts in enforcing smoking regulations and called on other local authorities to emulate.

The remarks were contained in a speech read on her behalf by PS Mark Bor during the official opening of the biennial conference of the Association of Public Health Officers of Kenya (APHOK) in Kisumu.

She announced that the Public Service Commission is in the process of recruiting 170 Bachelor of Science graduates of Environmental Health Sciences to boost enforcement of the Public Health Act and related legislation.

Mrs Mugo said that several strategies had been put in place to tackle environment related diseases, which contributed to a number of communicable diseases.

“The series of extreme weather conditions and natural disasters as well as the emergence of disease threats being experienced, is a harsh reminder of the critical linkages between human health and environmental conditions,” she said.

She noted that the high level of environmental degradation in the country had led to an upsurge of diarrhoeal diseases such as cholera over the last five years.

She attributed such outbreaks on poor sanitation occasioned to a large extent by low latrine coverage.

Mrs Mugo said that the ministry had prioritised increased latrine coverage as a key diarrhoeal disease control strategy.

During the 2008/ 2009 financial year, latrine coverage rose from 46 per cent to 53 per cent. The target for this year has been set for 61 per cent in the current financial year.

The minister said that surveillance of the quality of water would be scaled up.

“Safe water supply at the household level reduces diarrhoea by up to 32 per cent,” she added.

She said that the ministry would integrate safe water at the household level, hand washing with soap, improved latrine coverage and hygiene promotion and education for a more holistic benefit.

By COSMAS BUTUNYI, October 15 2009, Nation

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