Role of environmental education in the transformative agenda of Zambia’s Ministry of Health

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Kunda, Hector
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The University of Zambia
Environmental Education (EE) is explicitly acknowledged as one of the main strategies to address environmental challenges in Zambia and that it must be integrated in all institutions. In this regard, Zambia’s Ministry of Health (MoH) formulated environmental management strategies and repositioned itself in the context of a new and growing cadre of qualified environmental educators who could assist the MoH implement environmental sustainability strategies. However, most of the strategies formulated were more on control and treatment of diseases than prevention of diseases from the source. While it is known that medicines save lives, a fundamental cause of death is not only the delay or absence of medical support but that, today, knowledge about quality health and living conditions of our people has not been fully put at the disposal of citizens. This study, therefore, sought to establish the role of environmental education in the transformative agenda of Zambia’s MoH, to establish environmental education activities used by the MoH in the year 2019, to determine environmental management strategies that the MoH had been using in promoting national health and to explore the paradigm guiding the MoH’s transformative agenda. The study was guided by a qualitative research approach. By using a descriptive survey, the target population included professional providers and users of health care services in Zambia. A sample size of 40 participants of which five were key informants, 20 health care providers and 15 potential users of health care services was used. Semi-structured interview schedule and observation guide were used to collect data. Thematic analysis was used to analyse data and data validation was done through mirror triangulation. The findings of this study clearly indicated that there was little awareness about EE among the participants resulting in poor attitudes and mindset towards their environment. It is recommended that the MoH should consider incorporating EE in its establishment and structures to assist in the prevention of diseases from the source and that the MoH should develop partnerships and collaboration between the health sector, communities, private sector, other government departments and stakeholders that would influence the well-being of Zambians and their communities. Key words: Transformative agenda, Environmental education and Health promotion.
Environmental education--Zambia