19 November 2018

Namibia: 3800 Cases of Hepatitis E Recorded to Date Since Outbreak Declaration

Photo: B.Sokol/UNHCR
A Sudanese refugee and her daughter in Gendrassa camp, where one person has died of Hepatitis E (file photo).

Hepatitis E cases in the country have risen to 3800 since the country declared the outbreak in December last year, an official confirmed last week.

World Health Organization (WHO), Surveillance Officer, Dr Petrus Mhata confirmed this on occasion of a social mobilization event held at Havana Primary School in Katutura.

The Chinese Embassy in Namibia partnered with the Red Cross Society for the event which was aimed at educating the Havana community and school children on the proper hygiene steps to prevent the further spread of the disease as well as practice healthy lifestyles.

Mhata said that despite efforts to control and contain it, the virus has since spread to six other regions in the country and 33 lives have been lost, 14 of which are pregnant women.

The Havana Primary School this year recorded 3 cases (2 boys and 1 girl), but Head of the Science department, Wilbard Iilonga said the affected students have since received the best attention.

Secretary General of Namibia Red Cross Society, Bernadette Bock at the event said they did not expect that after 11 months they would still be struggling to battle the outbreak.

"Despite the rise in cases the Red Cross has been involved in information dissemination. Volunteers have been working around the clock going door to door to educate the different communities and encourage healthy hygiene practices," she added.

Bock believes that for the situation to change, the community has to change their mindset towards hygiene as most of the population in the country still practice open defecation and do not wash hands when neccessary.

Hepatitis E is transmitted via the faecal-oral route, principally via contaminated water and food. The outbreak over the couple of months has been concentrated in the informal settlements of Havana, Goreangab, Hakahana, Greenwell Matongo, Ombili and the broader Katutura.

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