Category: Environmental Health

CHEMICAL SAFETY IN SOUTH AFRICA

The safe transport, handling, use and disposal of hazardous chemicals and receptacles, are of crucial importance to the general health and well-being of members of the public, and the environment as a whole.

Different legislation covers the subject of hazardous substances in South Africa and the aim of this  article is  to focus broadly on the HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES ACT of 1973 (ACT 15 OF 1973).

The HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES ACT, 1973 (ACT 15 OF 1973) deals specifically with the following issues namely:

  1. Licensing;
  2. Conditions of sale;
  3. Keeping of records;
  4. Labelling; and
  5. Disposal of empty containers.

1. Licensing

All manufacturers, importers, wholesale distributors, registered pharmacists and general dealers of Group 1 hazardous substances, must be in possession of a valid license which is renewable annually. Group 1 hazardous substance, which are listed in the act, are extremely toxic and / or corrosive substances with mostly rapid chemical reactions and shall be locked separately from articles of food and drink in an enclosed space reserved solely for the hazardous substance.

The departments of Agriculture as well as National and Provincial Health, are responsible for the issuing of licenses.  The Municipal Environmental Practitioners are responsible to ensure that all cases of poisoning are investigated, as soon as they are notified of any incident.

2. Conditions of sale

All sales must take place at the address mentioned in the license and under control of the person mentioned therein.

All containers must be securely closed, free from leaks and of sufficient strength to withstand rough handling and preclude any loss of content.

  1. Keeping of records

Stock records should reflect the name and quantity of the substance, date of importation or acquisition, name of the supplier and whether the substance will be used for mining, or industrial purposes or to a wholesale distributor, a bona fide laboratory, research institution, teaching institution, government department, agricultural company or any other user. Records and invoices of sales must be kept for a period of 3 years.

  1. Labelling

Information that should reflect on a label must show the chemical name of the product or substances contained therein, the name and address of the supplier, a skull and crossbones symbol with the words “poison” and “keep out of reach of children”. The label and lettering is prescribed in the legislation, as well as directives regarding the disposal of empty containers. Risks involved using the substance, precautions and first aid treatment must be conspicuously labeled.

  1. Disposal of empty containers

Certain categories of hazardous substances empty containers must be returned to the manufacturer under very specific conditions. Other low risk containers can be perforated, flattened and buried at a hazardous land fill site. Empty containers that contained foodstuffs, cosmetics or disinfectants can never be used as containers for hazardous substances. Municipal Environmental Practitioners play a critical role in ensuring that all hazardous and medical waste are stored and disposed of in a safe and effective manner according to international norms and standards.

Hazardous substances can and should be handled as prescribed by legislation. This will ensure that our environment and loved ones are not negatively affected by the use of such substances. It is thus imperative, that we also make use of the above mentioned principles in our homes and workplace.

For more information, please contact the GRDM Municipal Health Section at 044 803 1550.

Water sample results in the Knysna estuary show improvement

Results of water samples taken on the 18th March 2019 indicate the Knysna estuary is safe for recreational use in all sites except the Ashmead Channel, Queen Street, the Train station, and Bongani.  The Ashmead channel is not safe for use for swimming, bait collection, fishing or wading at present. This extends from the areas adjacent to Loerie Park, Cathy Park and up to the area next to Monk’s Caravan Park. The Thesen island waterway on the Ashmead side is also not safe for use at present. Users of the estuary are encouraged to use compliant sites with the Department of Water Affairs guidelines including the Heads, Bollard Bay, the Point, Salt River, Crabs Creek, the Waterfront, the main channel and Belvidere. SANParks’ deepwater samples indicate areas are compliant and confirm that the deeper waters and main channel are safe for use.

Mc Carthy (Health Officer for the Garden Route District Municipality) explains ‘sampling will be done weekly by the District Municipality and in line with tidal flow. We are expecting a flush in 2-3 days and will definitely continue to sample thereafter.’

SANParks has erected signage at four (4) spots around the Knysna estuary warning recreational users not to fish, collect bait or swim there. Notices have been issued to tourism establishments around the area of concern so that they can warn guests not to use the unsafe area of the estuary. SANParks has also sent out regular ranger patrols to the affected area to warn people about the dangers of using the water.

Investigation into the causes of oil and grease that have entered the Waste water Treatment Works (WWTW), causing bacteria to die off and the WWTW to release high loads of E.coli into the estuary has led the Knysna Municipality and Garden Route District’s Health division to sample and check all pump stations. James McCarthy of the District’s Health division says ‘we physically checked all the pump stations to find the cause. We have also sent notices to establishments closest to the stations found to have high levels of oil and grease to request proof of proper disposal of oil stores.’

Apart from this joint investigation, Knysna Municipality has tackled the problem at the WWTW by introducing an oil-eating enzyme into the system while regularly dosing the WWTW with beneficial bacteria from the Brenton-on-Sea waste water works.

A pre-directive was issued by the Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Agency (BGCMA) to the Knysna Municipality subsequent to the spill from the WWTW. The Municipality will be given an opportunity to provide further action plans to rectify the situation.  According to the Knysna Municipality, the good news is that oil and grease counts in the WWTW are a lot lower since the investigation into the matter two weeks ago.’

The BGCMA has also undertaken to do more regular chemical samples including pH levels, ammonia, nitrates, phosphates levels in the water and others. SANParks has also committed to continue with deepwater samples although they’ve come out positive. Park Manager for Knysna, Megan says ‘in addition, we’ve committed to reviving and chairing the Knysna Estuary Pollution Committee to meet on a weekly basis to tackle this and any future incidents so that we protect the Knysna estuary’s unique biodiversity and tourism value.’

 

Boilerplate: SANParks has also taken deepwater samples and results look positive which means animal and plant life in those areas were not affected by the spikes, such would include the Knysna seahorse, the Knysna Gobi and others. Independent researchers declared the Knysna estuary as number 1 in the country in terms of biodiversity significance back in 2005.

Issued by: SANParks

The risk of using sewage effluent for irrigation purposes

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Although sewage effluent contains high levels of essential plant nutrients and minerals that stimulate growth, the use of effluent however also poses several short-and long-term health threats to the user. Effluent is mostly applied for irrigation during dry seasons with rapid evaporation of water, leaving behind high concentrations of non-biodegradable chemicals, which gradually drain into the groundwater and remain active for long periods of time, rendering it unfit for use.

The practice of re-using treated sewage effluent in times of great water scarcity and drought conditions is recognised internationally. This is mainly evident in the agricultural sector where sewage is diverted for irrigation of crops, orchards or even on recreational sport fields. This practice has now been extended to the irrigation of local household gardens. Local entrepreneurs are exploring this trade of distribution of sewage effluent. With the current water scarcity situation, this trade may be seen as an alternative water source as opposed to fresh water from the municipal distribution system. Section 24 of the CONSTITUTION OF REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, (ACT NO. 108 OF 1996), states that everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being.

Relative health risk from sewage effluent usage

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are significant health implications associated with the use of sewage for irrigation. These “sewage chemicals” contain domestic, industrial, pharmaceutical and hospital waste discharges. The following chemicals may typically be found: salts, minerals, heavy metals, pesticide residues and synthetic compounds such as disinfection by-products, pharmaceutically active chemicals such as endocrine disrupters and various acids. Some chemicals, for example, bromodichloro-methane, may be associated with miscarriages in women, while heavy metals may accumulate in the leaves or roots of many vegetables, posing risks to human health when consumed.

Furthermore, sewage effluent (especially when inadequately treated) also contains high levels of micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites, of which the majority may pose a serious health threat after exposure/ingestion. Bacteria such as Salmonella, Shigella, Clostridium, several strains of Eschericia coli, and Vibrio cholera, as well as entero-viruses such as polio-, echo and coxsackie viruses are recognised human pathogens. Parasites or their microscopic ova, such as hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms and bilharzia are commonly found. The majority of these micro-organisms have the ability to remain viable and infective for periods up to 30 days and some even as long as several months.

While the reuse of sewage effluent seems to be sensible in times of water scarcity and may even look good as a long term solution, contact exposure to this water source or soil and plants or irrigated playgrounds and lawns may pose a serious health risk to keen gardeners and recreational sport field users. Symptoms may include diarrhoea, fever, generalised infections, infections of skin abrasions, malnutrition from worm infestation, to more serious long term effects from ingestion of aforementioned chemicals and heavy metals. Whilst the serious water shortage in the Garden Route region is recognised, the continued use of sewage effluent as source of irrigation for household gardens and crops is not recommended.

Please contact the Municipal Health Section of the Garden Route District Municipality for further information at 044- 803 1300.

Disposal of the Dead

Section 24 of the CONSTITUTION OF SOUTH AFRICA, 1996, (ACT NO. 108 OF 1996) states that everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being, and to have the environment protected through reasonable legislative measures.  Environmental Health Practitioners are appointed in terms of the NATIONAL HEALTH ACT, 2003 (ACT NO 61 OF 2003) and has the legislative responsibility to enforce legislation to protect the general public.

Environmental Health Practitioners perform functions as listed in the SCHEDULE OF THE SCOPE OF PROFESSIONS OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH (GOVERNMENT NOTICE R888 OF 26 APRIL 1991).  Nine (9) key performance areas are listed as the roles and functions of Municipal Health Services of which one is the disposal of the dead.

The disposal of the dead is governed by THE REGULATIONS RELATING TO THE MANAGEMENT OF HUMAN REMAINS, NO. R.363 OF 22 MAY 2013 (R363) promulgated under the NATIONAL HEALTH ACT, 2003 (ACT NO 61 OF 2003).

 Disposal of the dead involves;

  • The monitoring of funeral undertakers, mortuaries, embalmers, crematoriums, graves and cemeteries for compliance; and
  • The management, control and monitoring of exhumation, reburial and the disposal of human remains.

The Municipal Health Department of the Garden Route District Municipality is responsible for the issuing of a Certificate of Competency to an operator who carries out any of the abovementioned activities.

To obtain a Certificate of Competency, the following process must be followed:

  • A written application must be submitted to the relevant authority in the area of jurisdiction where the premises is located (Garden Route District Municipality).
  • After evaluation and careful consideration of the application, an Environmental Health Practitioner will conduct a site visit.
  • If the Environmental Health Practitioner is of the opinion that the premises comply with the relevant legislation, a Certificate of Competence will be issued for a premises.

Take note: a Certificate of Competency is valid for a period of two (2) years from the date issued, therefore the Owner or Manager must apply in writing for a new certificate.

New funeral undertakers are required to follow a public participation process, before submitting an application for a Certificate of Competence.  A notice must be published in the local newspaper, not less than 21 days, before submitting an application.  The notice must be published in the main language of the area, as well as an additional language.

The notice shall contain all the relevant information of the local authority where the application will be submitted, to allow the opportunity for the public to submit any comments with substantiated representations to such local authority.

During regular inspections it is the responsibility of the Environmental Health Practitioner to ensure that the following facilities are available on the premises to ensure compliance with Regulation 363, namely;

  • A preparation room for the preparation of human remains;
  • Change-rooms, separate for each sex, for the use by the employees employed at such premises;
  • Refrigeration facilities for the refrigeration of human remains;
  • Facilities for the washing and cleansing of utensils and equipment inside the building;
  • Facilities for the cleansing of vehicles on such premises, equipped with approved drainage systems,
  • Facilities for the loading and unloading of human remains; and
  • Facilities for backup source electricity, in the case of power failure.

Exhumation and reburials of human remains

No exhumations and reburials of human remains shall take place without the written consent and/or approval from relevant local government or a court order issued by a magistrate.  An exhumation approval cannot be issued without a reburial permit.  These permits shall only be granted on condition that the exhumation of the human remains is done by a registered undertaker.

An exhumation must take place:

  • When the cemetery is not open to the public.
  • Under the supervision of the officer-in-charge.
  • In the presence of a member of the South African Police Services (SAPS).
  • Under the supervision of an Environmental Health Practitioner.

It is the responsibility of the Environmental Health Practitioner to monitor the process to ensure that no health nuisance or hazard is caused and/or arise during the exhumation.

Any complaints related to the operations and/or activities of funeral undertakers, mortuaries or crematoriums, must be logged at the respective Regional offices within the Garden Route District Municipality.

Public Awareness:  Vector Control

Vector control is an important component of many disease control programmes.  It is a cornerstone of very effective campaigns to control vector-borne diseases. For a number of diseases where there is no effective treatment or cure, such as West Nile Virus and Dengue Fever (not endemic to the Garden Route), vector control remains the only way to protect populations.

Vector control is any method to limit or eradicate the mammals, birds, insects or other blood-feeding arthropods, collectively called vectors, which transmit disease pathogens. Mosquitoes are the best-known invertebrate vector and it transmits a wide range of tropical diseases, including Malaria, Dengue and Yellow fever. Another large group of vectors is flies.

However, even for vector-borne diseases with effective applications, the high cost of treatment remains a huge barrier to a large number of developing countries. Vector-borne diseases are transmitted by the bite of infected arthropod species, such as mosquitoes, ticks, bugs and sand flies. Despite being treatable, malaria, which is transmitted by mosquitos in Africa, has by far the greatest impact on human health. A child in Africa dies of malaria every minute, although vector control measures that have been in effect since 2000, reduced fatalities with 50%.

As the impact of diseases and viruses are devastating, the need to control the vectors in which the disease or viruses are carried, continues to be prioritised. Vector control in many developing countries can have tremendous effects on mortality rates, especially among infants. The high movement of populations causes  diseases to spread rapidly – the Garden Route District cannot be excluded from this migration trend.

Control measures:

  1. Remove or reduce areas where vectors can easily breed. This will limit their growth, for example, the removal of stagnant water, riddance of old tyres and cans that serves as mosquito breeding environments.
  2. Limit exposure to insects or animals that are known disease vectors can reduce infection risks significantly, for example, window screens or protective clothes can help reduce the likelihood of contact with vectors.
  3. Chemical control by using insecticides, rodenticides or repellents to control vectors.
  4. Biological control, the use of natural vector predators such as bacterial toxins or botanical compounds can help control vector populations, for example, using of fish that eat the mosquito larvae.

Prevent vectors by wearing light coloured, long sleeved shirts and long pants, tucked into socks or boots. Use repellent on exposed skin and clothing, to protect yourself from being bitten by mosquitos, sand flies or ticks. Simple hygiene measures can reduce or prevent the spread of many diseases.

Avoid vector-borne diseases:

  1. Before travelling, vaccinate against diseases prevalent at your destination for example, Yellow fever. Antimalarial medicines is also available.
  2. Use window screens to control mosquitoes.
  3. Sleep under an insecticide-treated bed net, if in a place or area with a malaria risk.
  4. Check your body regularly for ticks. If you find one, remove it with a tweezers and apply a skin disinfectant. In a tick- infested area, check your clothing, luggage and other belongings.
  5. Avoid contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people or animals.
  6. Make sure to keep strict hygiene control of food and avoid unpasteurised dairy products in areas where tick-borne diseases are prevalent.
  7. If bitten and did receive treatment abroad, please remember to complete your treatment course at home.
  8. If you become ill upon your return, tell your doctor where you have been, as you may have brought a disease back with you.
  9. Child care facilities should treat their sandpits with salt on a regular basis to prevent vectors.

Awareness:  Rabies

What is Rabies

Rabies is a contagious and deadly viral disease, causing damage to the brain and the spinal cord. It affects both humans and animals, and in most cases, results in death once the disease symptoms develop.

How is Rabies spread?

The rabies virus is found in the saliva and nervous tissue of infected animals. It is transmitted to humans and other animals through contact with the saliva or tissue of an infected animals; bites, scratches, licks on broken skin and mucous membranes. Once the symptoms of the disease develop, rabies becomes fatal to both humans and animals.

What are the symptoms of rabies in humans?

Rabies symptoms may occur as early as one week and as late as several years after contact with, or bite from an infected animal. Seek treatment immediately after animal bite. Do not wait for symptoms to develop.

The symptoms in humans include:

  • headache and fever;
  • irritability, restlessness and anxiety;
  • muscle pains, malaise, hydrophobia (fear of water) and vomiting;
  • hoarse voice;
  • paralysis;
  • mental disorder;
  • profuse salivation; and
  • difficulty swallowing.

What to do following a bite or contact with a suspected rabid animal?

If been bitten or had contact with a dog or stray animal, a pet or farm animal that is behaving strangely (wild animal becomes friendly or domestic animal became wild), please follow the following steps:-

  • Wash the wound with clean water and soap immediately for at least ten minutes;
  • Apply an antiseptic ethanol or iodine;
  • Immediately consult a doctor for treatment and advice; and
  • Contact your nearest state veterinarian, clinic or doctor.

When should you suspect that an animal is infected with rabies?

Suspect that an animal is infected with rabies when it shows behavioural changes such as restlessness, irritability, excitability and shyness.

How do animals become infected?

Wild and domestic animals can become infected by:

  • When bitten by an infected animal;
  • A fight between a pet and an unknown or stray animal; and
  • A domestic animal with injuries of unknown origin.

How is rabies controlled?

  • Immediately isolate the suspected animal and inform your State Veterinarian.
  • Have your dogs and cats vaccinated regularly (all pets three months or older must be vaccinated).
  • Do not allow your pets to roam the streets.
  • Rabies is a dangerous infection. Do not handle suspected animals.
  • Report all suspected rabies cases to your nearest state veterinarian, animal health technician or to the police.

What animals most often implicated in rabies transmission?

Domestic- dogs, cats, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys, pigs, guinea pigs,

Wild- mongoose, suricate mongoose, civet, small spotted genet, caracal, serval, lion, African wildcat, small-spotted cat, felid species, honey badger, striped polecat, striped weasel, black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox, wild dog, cape fox, aardwolf, brown hyena, ground squirrel, tree squirrel, greater cane cat, cape hyrax, Chakma baboon, warthog, impala, duiker, steenbok, kudu, eland, blesbok, bushbuck, reedbuck, springbuck, burchell’s zebra, herbivore species and scrub hare.

Contact details of the State Veterinarian in our district: Tel 044 8735527

Awareness: Interventions by EHPs of the Garden Route District Municipality in prevention of the Cholera

Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) fulfil their responsibilities by working in accordance to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and the National Health Act.  In conducting their day-to-day tasks, EHPs are responsible to render services in line with the nine (9) key performances areas of Municipal Health Services, which include: water quality monitoring, food safety management, waste management, health surveillance of premises, surveillance and prevention of communicable diseases, environmental pollution control, disposal of dead, chemical safety and vector control.

In the execution of the abovementioned and in ensuring that communities have the opportunity to live in an environment that is not harmful to their health and/or environment, the EHPs of the Garden Route District Municipality constantly perform Moore pad sampling in a quest to prevent the outbreak of the Cholera disease.  Through this ongoing monitoring and assessments, these officials play a major role in the prevention of disease outbreak or sudden environmental health threats.

EHP, Ms Nokuphiwa Mbali, putting “Moore Pad” sample at Piesang River; one of the sampling points of Garden Route District Municipality.

What is Cholera?

Cholera is an endemic disease, and the Vibrio Cholera bacteria is often found in the aquatic environment, where it can remain dormant for long periods of time as part of the normal flora of brackish water and river estuaries.  It flares up under favourable conditions associated with algae blooms (plankton), which is influenced by the temperature of the water.  Infected humans, who are temporary carriers, are one of the main reservoirs of the pathogenic form of Vibrio cholerae. Cholera is spread, as most other viral and bacterial diarrhoeal diseases, by contaminated water and food, i.e. the faecal-oral route.  The ever-present role of flies and other vectors in the faecal-oral route must be kept in mind. Cholera is rarely transmitted by direct person-to-person contact.

Critical factors which influence the spreading of cholera

There are three main factors that are critical in their influence on the epidemic spreading of cholera, namely:

  • lack of access to medical treatment facilities;
  • lack of access to safe water supply and sanitation services; and
  • socio-economic living conditions.

The process of “Moore pad” sampling

Place sterile surgical gauze swab tied with a length of 1 meter string into the flowing river or sewage so that the pad hangs below the surface of the water. This pad should remain in place for 72 hours, after which it should be pulled out, into a pre-prepared sterile bottle containing double strength alkaline peptone water.  The labeled specimens must be sent to the laboratory at room temperature for analysis.

The sampling rate is higher during season periods where water from the rivers and the lagoon are running into the ocean.  Vibrio cholera bacteria is often found in the aquatic environment where it can remain dormant for long periods as part of the normal flora of salt water.

Municipal Health team educates learners of Hoogekraal Primary School about health & hygiene

The Municipal Health team from the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), on Wednesday, 24 October 2018, surprised the learners and educators from the Hoogekraal Primary School near George, with a “different type” of health and hygiene training.

Juanita Samuels listens carefully and demonstrates to her fellow learners how hands must be properly washed.

The drama group “Youth for Change” performing various plays to educate learners about the importance of good health and hygiene practises. The group was formally trained by Garden Route District Municipality through a “Peer Educational Training Programme”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The learners looked confused when the team arrived, but soon a change in atmosphere took place when Ms Lana Don, Environmental Health Practitioner from the Municipal Health office in George led them with a song “Hands, shoulders, knees and toes” where after she opened the event with a prayer.

The highlight of the event was when the “Youth for Change” drama group from Oudtshoorn performed various plays to convey messages relating to daily health and hygiene practises.

In the play, the learners witnessed how their “Grandmother” passed away in front of them due to poor health practises and unhealthy eating habits.  Seeing this happen, got some of them almost in tears. The young audience was not impressed with the bad and unhealthy lifestyle of their “Grandma” which ended up causing her death.

Learners and educators of the Hoogekraal Primary School, with the Municipal Health team from Garden Route District Municipality and the “Youth for Change” drama group, soon after the health & hygiene formal programme.

Ms Carike Jantjies, during her presentation to the learners focused on various aspects, such as the safe storing of food and the temperature in which food must be warmed up.  “Food must be stored in a temperature of no less than 5oC and must be heated in a temperature of 60oC or more,” she emphasised.  Ms Jantjies also enlightened the learners about Listeriosis, how it is borne and the dangers thereof.  Environmental Health Practitioner, Ms Janine van Wyk, with colleagues Ms Ivy Mamegwa and Ms Sive Mkuta, demonstrated proper hand washing techniques to the learners.  Ms van Wyk explained to the learners: “Do not only wash your hands, but also from the lower to the upper (middle) part of your arm”.  Ms Van Wyk furthermore reiterated that, hands must be washed after playing or after lunch breaks and after using the toilet.

Ms Emmy Douglas, GRDM Chief:  Municipal Health at the GRDM George office, thanked the school principal, Mr Grootboom, for warmly welcoming the team on their arrival and allowing them to educate the learners in respect of good health & hygiene habits. She extended a special word of gratitude to the drama group and said:  “You portrayed and conveyed the message to the learners in the best way possible, and we thank you”.

Mr Grootboom officially thanked the GRDM team and the drama group for making time and effort to reach out to the school.  He said: “It clearly shows that Garden Route District Municipality did not forget about our school’s existence. We truly appreciate this important outreach”.  Mr Desmond Paulse, Manager:  Municipal Health from the Oudtshoorn area, also attended the event.

Informal Food Traders from Mossel Bay receive training

 

The informal food trading sector in South Africa has a positive impact on micro businesses which contributes to job creation, poverty alleviation and establishment of breadwinners in communities.   The sector plays a critical role in food security, facilitating access to food by poor people living in urban areas and has the potential to expand the economic viability of the region.

To address the Key Performance Areas set for Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs), the EHPs of the Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Mossel Bay office, facilitated an awareness training session, focusing on informal food traders selling offal on 3 October 2018, at the Asla Park Community Hall.   The aim of this type of training is to educate traders on basic food hygiene practices, as outlined in legislation and also to ensure that food being consumed does not pose health risks. The importance of safe, hygienic food handling and selling in the prevention of food poisoning outbreaks, are always emphasized during these events.

The thirteen Informal Food Traders from KwaNonqaba and Asla Park in Mossel Bay, after the training session conducted by the GRDM Environmental Health Practitioners, Mr Lukanyo Mafuduka (left) and Ms Neo-Lay Britz (right).

Fifteen Informal Food Traders from Mossel Bay attended the session. The following aspects were covered during the training:

  • registration of food stalls
  • food safety
  • food poisoning
  • how does one contract food poisoning
  • signs and symptoms of food poisoning
  • five keys to safer food, which entail:
  • keeping clean;
  • separating raw food from cooked food;
  • cooking food thoroughly;
  • keeping food at safe temperatures; and
  • using safe water and safe raw material.

Subsequently to the training session, interviews were conducted with participants who indicated that the training was significant. The session also confirmed that they were not familiar with some of the opportunities in Mossel Bay, and how it could benefit them. Attendees also indicated that they would appreciate if more training could be rolled out to them. Incentives such as cooler boxes, storage containers, meat trays, hairnets and aprons, were given to all the participants who attended the training

More training sessions will be conducted by the GRDM Environmental Health Practitioners throughout the year to ensure that safety and hygiene standards are met in order to protect the public.

World Environmental Health Day celebrated

Statistics from the Department of Health showed, that many children and adults are suffering from diseases, such as diarrhoea, which can be easily prevented or cured, but sometimes result in very sad consequences.

To address this problem, the Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) of the Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Klein Karoo municipal health office developed a drama production aimed at creating awareness among community members, especially school children.

The aim of the drama production was to:

  • promote good food safety practices;
  • educate learners and the community, on how germs and infections are transmitted;
  • improve hygiene behaviour; and
  • prevent the spread of diarrhoeal and other hygiene-, sanitation- and water related diseases in communities.

A local actor and four (4) peer educators were approached to assist with the performance.  The drama piece was also developed in commemoration of World Environmental Health Day, on 26 September 2018, themed – “Food Security and Sustainability”.

Actors and Environmental Health officials with some of the community members from Hoeko (Ladismith) who attended the information session.

On 24 and 25 September 2018, the drama production was performed respectively in Hoeko (Ladismith area) and in Dysselsdorp.  Approximately 216 households were reached through the initiative. Educators and community leaders were impressed by the informative messages that were conveyed. The actors demonstrated the relationship between good hygienic practices and health status towards a positive impact in community health and quality of life.

According to the organisers of the events, the initiative surely increased the self-esteem of community members, promoted health and hygiene awareness practices and empowered the community with knowledge, in order to take responsibility for their own health and life.

Mr Desmond Paulse, Manager Municipal Health: Klein Karoo (left) with the Peer Educators who performed in the drama production.

The drama production forms part of an ongoing health and hygiene education programme performed by the GRDM municipal health section.