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The multidisciplinary nature of environmental health practitioners (EHP) allows them to understand where different sectors can intersect to maximise severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-related interventions.
EHPs have the necessary skills to support the transdisciplinary approach required to halt the further spread of SARS-CoV-2.
Governments should support the work of EHPs across the region and include them among key decision-making stakeholders.
Early in 2020, as the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) took a global hold, Kapata and colleagues asked the question ‘Is Africa prepared and equipped to deal with yet another outbreak of a highly infectious disease – COVID-19?’.1 The authors advocated that, in many ways, the continent has never been better prepared to deal with a global pandemic, such as COVID-19, having learnt and developed plans from previous and ongoing disease outbreaks, for example, Ebola in 2014–2016. However, in a region where health systems are already crippled by the delivery of routine health services, and where COVID-19 mitigation measures such as social distancing and lockdowns are neither physically nor economically viable, it is essential that we focus on context appropriate preventive measures to minimise the impact of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.2–5
Key to the implementation of preventive measures are environmental health practitioners (EHPs). EHPs have played a vital role since the initial response to COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), leading the rapid implementation of controls at border posts, for example, traveller screening, implementation of quarantining rules, isolation of cases and contact tracing through their role in port and community health management. However, as the number of cases across the continent continues to rise, it can be argued that EHPs have a much wider role to play due to their broad range …
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