The annual inter action between Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s (CPUT) Nursing Department and Eden District Municipality’s Municipal Health Services Section on, again proved to be highly successful and very informative. The session, this year, took place on Tuesday, 29 July 2014 at the University’s George Satellite Campus.
According to Mr David Papier, Eden’s Environmental Health Practitioner, the 28 first year nursing students were amazed by the extensive information offered and given to them by the Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP) from Eden. The team consisted of Mr Clifford Mdingi (Chief: Municipal Health for the George Region), Ms Natalie Jeftha, Ms Elizna Barnard, Mr Francois Koelman, Ms Theresa Jansen van Vuuren, Ms Janine van Wyk, Mr Dan Sefoor, Ms Carike Soman and Mr David Papier together with the Executive Manager for Management Services, Mr Clive Africa.”
In his preview, Mr Africa voiced his concerns as far as modern days and current health issues are affecting and influencing the delivery of effective community services accordingly. It was again emphasised that health professionals like nurses and Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP’S) cannot function and operate in spheres and silos of their own – the one needs the other. The re-emergence of diseases thought to be eradicated, will test the knowledge of all the health professional fully when dealing with these illnesses. Scary is the fact that the prevalence of Ebola cannot be wished away not to happen in South Africa, the resistance of many bacteria species towards antibiotics etc. drug resistant tuberculosis, makes health challenges more frightening.
Information was shared about the role, functions and duties of the EHP in general and during outbreaks and incidents; the training needs and academic requirements to become an EHP was explained and the scope of practice as well as the key performance areas of the EHP were elaborated on.
Apart from it all, an in dept scenario of how a food borne poisonous outbreak/ incident should be dealt with in real life, was also presented. It is of outmost importance that prompt and rapid response investigation is essential in a food borne outbreak. Reason being, clinical and environmental samples are only available for sampling during a small window of opportunity. Morbidity and mortality can be averted by early and effective interventions.
The group of nurses was also given information on all role players and their functions/duties during an outbreak. The Epidemic Preparedness Response (EPR) team includes Communicable Disease Control, Epidemiology/ Health Information, Health Promotion (National and Provincial Departments), Environmental Health (Provincial and Local Authorities), Food Control, Pharmaceutical, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS), National Institute for Communicable Disease (NICD), SA Military and Department of Water Affairs.
Educating and informing the community at large to encourage co-operation, is of utmost importance during an incident/ outbreak.