11 December 2018

Namibia: WHO Commits N$3 Million to Hepatitis E Response

Windhoek — The World Health Organisation (WHO) has since the outbreak of Hepatitis E committed N$3 million to support the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS) to intensify efforts in the response against the disease.

The WHO country representative, Dr Charles Sagoe-Moses, said last week that approximately N$500 000 was allocated to the Ministry of Health and Social Services to conduct a frontline Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme, which will see 30 students deployed to the regions affected by Hepatitis E to strengthen their support.

Further support is provided to the Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP) for reagents worth N$173 665 to strengthen local capacity for Hepatitis E testing.

Furthermore, support is being provided to the Namibia Red Cross Society of over N$500 000 for 35 community volunteers who are expected to conduct community surveillance, contact tracing, and hygiene promotion at household levels, said the WHO country representative.

Sagoe-Moses said: "Volunteers in Omusati and Khomas will work hand-in-hand with the Community Health Assistants or Health Extension Workers to cover areas that are not reached - thereby increasing and strengthening ongoing health education and hygiene promotion interventions at community level".

Similar support is provided to the Municipality of Swakopmund to intensify their interventions at community level, he added. Additionally, over N$300 000 was committed to support messages on radio and television, with a focus on handwashing.

"This is by no means sufficient, as frequency to messages will support work at community level, and WHO is actively seeking for additional funding upon other partners to strengthen health education through the media," stated Sagoe-Moses.

Recently, WHO provided technical support to the Ministry of Health and Social Services in the area of coordination, surveillance, and risk communication.

"The team from the (WHO) country office and the MOHSS staff trained the community volunteers from the Namibia Red Cross Society and the Swakopmund municipality. I am happy to note that these newly trained group of volunteers is already deployed to the field," said Sagoe-Moses.

He further conveyed his hope that the support will enable the Ministry of Health and Social Services to intensify their response to the Hepatitis E outbreak and reduce the number of cases.

"WHO remains committed to providing technical support to the coordination of the response in the affected regions and overall national level," said Sagoe-Moses.

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