16 Jul 2013 11:20
OPUWO, 16 JUL (NAMPA) - About 21 learners and six teachers from KM Maundu Primary School in the Epupa Constituency have become ill after drinking dirty water last Friday.
The school was visited by members of the Ministry of Health and Social Services? Department of Epidemiology and a World Health Organisation (WHO) delegation on Monday.
Speaking at a meeting with the team, acting principal of KM Maundu Primary School, Kavikua Tjiimbi told the delegation that he boiled water from the hand pump, which is the only source of water for the school, on Thursday.
The water was apparently dark in colour, and had the consistency of oil.
They have since stopped the learners from using the water from the hand pump, and instructed them to rather use water from the open traditional well of the community in the riverbed.
The traditional well on which the hand pump is fixed, is said to be 4,5 metres deep. It was sealed in 2006 by the Namibian Red Cross Society (NRCS) to ensure more hygienic water for the school, which is situated about 150 metres away from the hand pump.
A water hand pump is fixed by the Red Cross on bore holes or traditional wells to prevent it from being open and becoming contaminated.
?On Friday morning, 10 learners started to complain of stomach-ache, headache, fever and diarrhoea, and we concluded that it was due to the water from the hand pump,? Tjiimbi noted.
Some teachers, including the acting principal himself, also complained of not feeling well.
The learners were given painkillers, while some teachers received medical attention at Opuwo, some 60 kilometres away from this school.
The sick learners are now isolated in tents and traditional Himba huts so that they do not infect others.
The school has 145 learners from pre-primary up to Grade Seven level.
The Deputy Director in the Ministry of Health?s Department of Epidemiology, Clementine Muroua thanked Tjiimbi for informing the authority about the outbreak, and also for stopping the use of the hand pump.
She told Nampa on Monday that she advised the principal to encourage the learners to always wash their hands before they eat, as many germs are spread in this way.
Muroua said they will analyse the samples of the sick learners? stool and water to find out what the source of the outbreak is.
The results are expected to be ready by Friday.
?We cannot say what disease the learners have, but we are encouraging people to improve their hygiene by cleaning their hands after using the toilet, before and after eating, and to boil water from the wells before drinking it or to use the water treatment tablets we gave them,? she noted.
Muroua also said that there was a need for the learners to be transported to the nearest clinic for treatment, and for them to be given a lot of water as they may become dehydrated as a result of diarrhoea.
The delegation gave the school 500 packs of water treatment pills, and distributed another 500 packs to the rest of the community.
A case of cholera was confirmed on 01 July this year at Otjimuhaka village in the Kunene Region from an Angolan national.
Two other patients have since been hospitalised at the Opuwo State Hospital for suspected cholera, and they also hail from Angola.