Environmental Affairs and Tourism minister Valli Moosa has commended the University of Natal's efforts to bring occupational and environmental health issues under the spotlight. The minister was speaking in Durban yesterday at the official launch of the new occupational and environmental health facility at the institution's Nelson R. Mandela Medical School. In partnership with government and the private sector, the centre aims to increase capacity in occupational health through education and training programmes. Issues to be addressed by the centre's researchers include waterborne diseases, waste (biomedical, hazardous, solid, liquid), sanitation and airborne and respiratory diseases. Delivering the keynote address at the launch, Mr Moosa said education and research in universities were essential for improving the consciousness of people on environmental health issues.He added that many developing countries were still faced with a problem where workers were often illiterate and untrained in the proper use and disposal of toxic chemicals and pollutants. Global industrialisation and world trade in chemicals has grown faster than the flow of information and awareness about associated health and environmental risks. To deal with this problem, the minister mentioned that his department was working together with the health department on a pollution and waste management strategy.Furthermore, the Draft Air Quality Bill, which was currently being developed by his department, would make provision for stricter emission standards for incinerators.(Source: BUANews, 11 March 2003).
The recent discovery of tons of medical waste, packed floor to ceiling in a suburban west Johannesburg house, has drawn attention to the problems experienced in the disposal of this material.