International journal of environmental research and public health
School of Medical and Health Sciences
The COVID-19 pandemic tested the health system of Western Australia (WA) and the relatively new overarching legislative framework that guided the state-wide public health response to the pandemic. This study aimed to evaluate the experiences and roles of environmental health officers (EHOs) in WA during the management of COVID-19 and to identify any policy changes that are needed to facilitate the rapid deployment of EHOs during a future public health crisis. An online survey with 78 respondents was administered and analysis was both qualitative and quantitative. It was found that participants believed there was inadequate resourcing, workforce shortages, increased workloads, and a lack of recognition and integration of the profession within the COVID-19 response. Notably, more than 65 % of the respondents believed they could have been better utilised during the pandemic. This research has demonstrated that the COVID-19 pandemic in WA had clear gaps in its processes for managing responses and resilience to pandemics. Policy recommendations outlining a more efficient and integrated delivery of environmental health services throughout the state during emergencies are discussed.
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