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Of the more than 7 500 service requests dealt with by City Health over a nine-month period, 67% were for pest control and unhygienic conditions.

The City of Cape Town’s Health Directorate logged 7 616 service requests and complaints in the first nine months of the current financial year (July 2015 – March 2016). Of these, 99,2% were resolved. However, the bulk of the complaints revolved around vector control (limiting or eradicating animals that transmit disease pathogens) and unhygienic conditions like illegal dumping and waste spillages, as outlined below:

Category Total
Vector control 2 648
Unhygienic conditions 2 428
Noise pollution 417
Clinic services 381
Overgrown erven 374
Air pollution 299
Water 206
Food 79
Smoking 76

‘The statistics are not entirely surprising, since it’s no secret that we have a problem with illegal dumping in this city which is one of the key complaints listed as part of unhygienic conditions. That in turn promotes the presence of pests like rodents and cockroaches, hence the high number of service requests in that category. Every action has a reaction and the lesson learnt from these statistics is that communities need to do more to keep the environment clean, which will in turn reduce the risk of pests and disease,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Health, Councillor Siyabulela Mamkeli.

The City’s environmental health practitioners are responsible for monitoring a number of areas that could potentially have an impact on the health of the population and the environment, and instituting remedial measures where necessary. This includes:

  • monitoring of waste management (water and land pollution, illegal dumping or littering)
  • noise pollution
  • air quality management
  • mosquito, cockroach and rodent infestation
  • business licensing
  • food control  (issuing certificates of acceptability to food handling and storage premises; an extensive food sampling programme is in place to monitor the microbiological and compositional compliance of foodstuffs with legislation and acceptable standards)
  • health surveillance of premises by means of inspections (restaurants, hotels, B&Bs, tuck shops, informal traders, shops, shopping malls, Early Childhood Development centres, schools, frail-care premises, kennels and catteries, etc.)
  • monitoring water quality
  • prevention of communicable diseases
  • chemical safety

A more detailed description of these areas of interest is available here: http://tinyurl.com/zvk5eud

‘Given the scope of our Environmental Health Department, it’s interesting to note how few complaints we receive in some of these categories like food safety and smoking, for example. On the one hand it could be indicative of a high level of compliance with legislation, but it could also be indicative of a lack of understanding about environmental health and the channels available to log complaints.

‘I think in part it also has to do with how we view health. For many people, health relates to illnesses and visits to the clinic or hospital. That’s a more reactionary approach. Environmental health is more proactive. It is everything from good personal hygiene to limit the spread of germs to effective waste disposal and food storage practices which in turn reduce the risk of pathogens that can cause illness. It is also about identifying and dealing with noise pollution which can have an impact on your physical health through sleep deprivation and so forth,’ added Councillor Mamkeli.

Residents are encouraged to contact their nearest Environmental Health Office for advice or assistance, or to lodge complaints or concerns about environmental health hazards with the City’s call centre on 0860 103 089.

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