Original Research

Environmental health community service: Confronting the human resource challenges

Patience Mbola, Izanne S. Human, Paula E. Melariri
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 17 | a1135 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v17i0.1135 | © 2019 Patience Mbola, Izanne S. Human, Paula E. Melariri | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 October 2018 | Published: 18 November 2019

About the author(s)

Patience Mbola, Department of Environmental and Occupational Studies, Faculty of Applied Science, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, South Africa
Izanne S. Human, Department of Environmental and Occupational Studies, Faculty of Applied Science, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, South Africa
Paula E. Melariri, Department of Environmental Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: The environmental health graduates are required to complete community service before they could be registered as independent practitioners by the Health Professions Council of South Africa. Community service programme serves as the mechanism to recruit healthcare professionals who will improve the provision of equitable and quality healthcare.

Research purpose: The study aimed to explore, identify and describe the factors that had an influence on the effective selection, placement and utilisation of environmental health graduates as well as an evaluation of the effectiveness of community service.

Research approach/design and method: A quantitative, cross-sectional study was conducted using self-administered questionnaires. The study included 24 environmental health practitioners who completed their community service and 10 environmental health practitioners responsible for coordinating community service in the municipal, provincial and national spheres of government in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa during 2013–2016. Purposive sample was drawn from each population. T-test and chi-square test were used to determine the statistical significant differences. The open-ended question responses from the structured questionnaire were qualitatively analysed by an independent coder.

Main findings: The findings revealed major problems regarding the effective implementation of community service that included decreasing number of community service posts, inadequate material resources, lack of induction, inconsistent supervision, and a lack of evaluation of the community service.

Contribution: The study findings suggest important inequalities that should deserve urgent attention. Study concludes by presenting recommendations for the improvement of the community service in the environmental health.


Keywords

community service; environmental health; environmental health practitioner; selection; placement; utilisation

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