11 December 2018

Namibia: Rapid Assessment On Hepatitis E Underway in Informal Settlements

Windhoek — The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS) is undertaking a rapid assessment survey on knowledge, attitude, and practices of residents of Havana and Goreangab informal settlements on Hepatitis E virus during the ongoing outbreak.

The survey is in collaboration with the United States of America Centers for Disease Control and Prevention country office and the Namibia Statistics Agency, MOHSS Permanent Secretary, Ben Nangombe, has announced. "Despite the ongoing implementation of control measures toward containing the current Hepatitis E virus outbreak, new cases are being reported on a weekly basis. There is a need to understand the knowledge, attitude and practices of the affected community towards Hepatitis E, in order to guide the implementation of appropriate response intervention," says Nangombe.

The study aims to determine the current status of knowledge, attitude and practices toward Hepatitis E among residents living in the epicenter of the outbreak - which is Havana and Goreangab informal settlements. The study also aims to describe the current water and sanitation situation in Havana and Goreangab informal settlements, and to determine whether associations exist between levels of knowledge, attitude and practices, and socio-demographic characteristics.

Nangombe says a team of 13 data collectors, six field supervisors, and three drivers are expected to cover 640 households in the Havana and Goreangab informal settlements over a nine day period, excluding Sundays.

The study, which started on December 3, is expected to conclude today (Tuesday, 11 December). The consent form and survey tools have been translated into three widely spoken local dialects, namely: Oshiwambo, Otjiherero, and Afrikaans to overcome anticipated language barriers among the study population. "The findings of this rapid assessment survey will be communicated to the public on an appropriate forum," adds Nangombe. He further emphasised the importance of handwashing and hygiene -even during the festive season - when many people are expected to converge for festivities such as weddings: "As we approach the festive season, we anticipate frequent large public gatherings and festivities. Organisers and hosts of such gatherings should ensure provision of safe drinking water, handwashing facilities with soap and running water, and adequate ablution facilities with handwashing stations," cautions the PS.

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