Omuthiya — Non-communicable diseases are on the increase and remain one of the leading causes of death in the country, says the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Kalumbi Shangula.
Shangula noted that cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases are more often the cause of attendance in outpatient services, and among in-patients in hospitals, hence remain leading causes of death.
"Lifestyle diseases normally take many years to manifest, which in turn results in late diagnosis and treatment," stressed Shangula.
He further touched on the issue of the Hepatitis E outbreak, saying the study conducted in seven regions during October, 2018, found that community surveillance and contact tracing are not done regularly. "There is a low risk communication through mass media. Water contamination is taking place through the delivery chain. Sanitation is very poor in informal settlements, open defecation, unsafe and irregular hand-washing practices are the norm rather than an exception," stated Shangula when revealing some of the root causes established.
Hepatitis E has claimed 41 lives since its detection in 2017, most of whom are pregnant and post-partum women.
The health minister made these remarks at the commemoration of International Women's Day held in Omuthiya last Friday, where he launched the National Plan of Action on Gender Based Violence, Africa Gender and Development Index; National Gender Based Violence Baseline Study; and Namibia National Training Resource Kit on GBV. These documents will serve as guiding tools to reduce gender-based violence and ultimately to ensure gender equality in society.
The event was held under the theme, "Think equal, build smart, innovate for change; empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality".
"This theme is in line with our 5th National Development Plan, which centres on the expansion and modernisation of physical infrastructure, transport and logistics as well as gender equality and the strengthening of social protection systems in Namibian by 2022," he said.
He added that, women in Namibia still face various challenges, which hinder their full participation in many economic sectors against the backdrop of gender stereotypes and gender-based violence cases experienced. Shangula also noted that women still lack access to agricultural markets as well as access to credit schemes.
Shangula is also concerned about the high number of teenage pregnancy in Oshikoto, as 204 cases were recorded in 2017.
"In the same year, one female dropped out of school due to early childhood marriage. This practice is counter-productive, thus, it should be discouraged and discontinued," Shangula stressed.
According to a national formative study on child marriage in Namibia, the prevalence of child marriage for girls stands at 18 percent nationally and 16 percent in Oshikoto.
The Oshikoto Governor Henock Kankoshi; Women's Action for Development Executive Director, Salatiel Shinedima; Acting UN Country Representative, Rachel Odede; US and Zambian Ambassador to Namibia Lisa Johnson and Stella Libongani, respectively, among others, also attended the event.