Public Awareness: The roles and responsibilities of Environmental Health Practitioners in Vector Control
07 July 2021
For immediate release
Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), in terms of the powers vested in Section 156 (2) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act No. 108 of 1996 read with Section 13(a) of the Local Government Municipal Systems Act, 2000, stipulates that the Environmental Health Practitioner (EHP) within the is responsible for the health and hygiene surveillance of food premises. In terms of the Scope of Practice for EHPs, one (1) of the nine functions of Municipal Health Services is Vector Control.
What are vectors, the control thereof and its impact on public health?
According to research, vector-borne diseases account for approximately 17% of the estimated global burden of infectious diseases. Vectors are insects or animals that spread an infectious disease through a bite, or contact with their urine, faeces, blood, etc. Vectors include mosquitoes, flies, ticks, rodents, cockroaches and fleas. Diseases spread by vectors include malaria, dengue fever, Zika, chikungunya, yellow fever, Rift Valley fever and plague.
The role of Environmental Health Practitioners in vector controlling is to understand the vector and how it transmits infectious pathogens. The team also has to monitor the possible existence of environmental factors that can create a conducive environment for the breeding of vectors; and lastly, they also have to conduct case investigations of vector-borne diseases, as well as public health education on preventative measures.
The National Health Act of 2003, National Environmental Norms and Standards and the Garden Route District Municipal By-Laws of 10 December 2018, obligates food premises to comply with the following requirements for pest control purposes:
- Effective measures to prevent and control infestation from pests.
- Pest control programmes which sets out procedures necessary to prevent and control pests within the premises. This includes identification of pests, the level of infestation and measures implemented to prevent and control pest infestation in the internal and exterior perimeters of the food premises.
- The pest control program should include procedures on the correct storage of food, management of waste and housekeeping to ensure proper management of conditions that may promote pest infestation.
- Suitably trained and competent personnel for the implementation and maintenance of documented pest control programs.
What are the hygiene requirements at various settings?
- Waste generated on the food premises should be properly removed and stored at all times.
- Remove waste regularly to eliminate potential food sources and harbourage for pests and keep the area where waste is stored clean.
- Containers for the discarding or storage of waste should be fitted with tight-fitting lids, rodent-proof and constructed of material that may not be penetrated by rodents.
- Waste storage containers to cleaned and disinfected regularly to avoid attracting pests. Storage containers kept closed at all times.
- Good housekeeping practices to ensure premises are free of conditions that may attract pests.
- A cleaning program to promote the immediate cleaning of minor spills and filth, for example, clean-as-you-go-principle.
Water and Food
- Avoid stagnating water in and around the premises. This can be possible breeding for mosquitoes and attraction for rodents and other pests.
- Locked, labelled, tamper-resistant bait station.
- Securely placed to ensure no removal and maintained in good condition.
- Regular inspections on the bait stations to check for any activity/ presence of rodents.
- The food premises must be rodent-proof and must be in accordance with the SANS Code 080 of 1972.
Challenges relating Vector Control
- An increasing amount of food premises are found not to be compliant with their pest control programmes.
- Food premises managers or owners cannot provide the EHP with receipts for pest control servicing on request.
- Food premises managers or owners are not reporting immediately or not at all when they have pest infestations. These include spaza shops.
The effective execution of a pest control program must be regularly monitored. Therefore, Environmental Health Practitioners appeal to the public to report any nuisances caused by vectors to the Municipal Health Services Section of GRDM. An Environmental Health Practitioner will attend swiftly to all the complaints brought to their attention.
For more information relating to Vector Control, contact the GRDM Municipal Health Services Section at 044-803 1300/1525.