Health surveillance of premises is a function of Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM’s) Municipal Health Services (MHS) Section who serve to promote safe, healthy and hygienic conditions at all premises e.g. housing, business, and public premises.
If it is found that conditions exist which cause a health hazard an investigation and evaluation will follow to initiate corrective action(s).
According to Mr. Johan Compion, Manager: Municipal Health and Environmental Services “an average of 4 819,5 municipal health inspections are done per month by the municipality”. The busiest time for Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs), remain between September and November.
MHS include the identification, monitoring, and evaluation of health risks, nuisance and hazards on-premises or facilities such as:
- accommodation resorts;
- body piercing/tattoo parlors;
- childcare facilities;
- guest houses;
- health care facilities;
- informal settlements;
- night shelters;
- offensive trades
- old age homes;
- places of care;
- premises where animals are kept;
- public toilet facilities;
- recreation ablution facilities;
- retirement villages;
- self-catering accommodation premises; and
- tertiary and other educational institutions.
Environmental health inspections of premises are conducted by Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) and can be unannounced. Along with this, inspection checklists are used during all inspections, followed by an inspection report. Such a report includes the relevant health recommendations, issued by EHPs to the person in charge or the owner of a premises after every inspection. An inventory or database of all premises (e.g. childcare centres, nursing homes, beauty salons, schools, etc.) is kept and maintained by the MHS office, for monitoring and control purposes. Monitoring activities are coordinated with other relevant stakeholders to ensure synergy and comprehensive provision of services to communities.
These inspections adopt a risk management approach with a specific focus on ventilation, lighting, indoor air quality, food safety, water and sanitation practices, management of waste, pest control, disease transmission risk factors, hygiene practices and other conditions that are likely to pose a hazard or risk to human health. After inspections, businesses who were inspected receive a list of recommendations and remedial actions to follow. This also forms part of the health education rolled out during environmental health inspections.
Inspections and investigations happen in accordance with Section 82 and 83 of the National Health Act for regulatory compliance reasons. If any conditions persist at premises which can be a risk to the health of community members, the Municipal Health Section can take action in terms of the Health Act, 2003 (Act 61 of 2003) and Municipal Health By-Laws to ensure that corrective and preventative measures are implemented.
According to Section 84(1)(l) of the Municipal Structures Act, Act 117 of 1998, one of the core functions of a district municipality is MHS. Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa entrenches the right of all citizens to live in an environment that is not harmful to their health and well-being.