Namibia: Campaign to Eliminate Hepatitis E

9 September 2019

Communities need to work together to eliminate hepatitis E, health executive director Ben Nangombe said on Saturday.

Nangombe said this at the commemoration of World Hepatitis Day in Windhoek, where development partners came together with the community of Samora Machel and Moses Garoëb constituencies in the Khomas region.

The health ministry and the City of Windhoek, the Development Workshop in Namibia, UN Namibia and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, launched the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) campaign to increase access to safe sanitation in the informal settlements.

The approach focuses on mobilising behaviour change in the communities and eliminating open defecation in the two constituencies.

"We are here to recognise that in order to stop the spread of hepatitis E in the urban and informal settlements, good sanitation and hygiene for all can be achieved in Namibia," the WHO country representative, Charles Sagoe Moses, said on behalf of the UN Namibia.

While access to improved sanitation is a basic human right, 46% of Namibia's population practises open defecation, it emerged during the launch.

In August, The Namibian reported that the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development had allocated N$50 million for the provision of potable water and sewer lines during the 2019/20-2020/21 period.

The Namibian reported earlier that according to the health ministry, 6 032 hepatitis E cases have been reported since the outbreak in December 2017 to the beginning of August 2019.

Khomas governor Laura McLeod-Katjirua, in the same month, also said the Khomas region was the worst-affected region with 3 819 confirmed cases, with the majority of these being adults between the ages of 20 and 39.

Hepatitis E cases have been reported mainly in informal settlements, where access to clean water and sanitation is a challenge.

The main drivers of hepatitis E include open defecation, as well as poor sanitation and hygiene practices, which can be prevented if community members change their behaviour.

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