Namibia not prepared for health disaster

07 Feb 2019 16:50pm
WINDHOEK, 07 FEB (NAMPA) – Namibia is not ready for natural health disasters if the country cannot contain the Hepatitis E virus outbreak, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Country Director Eric Dziuban has said.
Dziuban made this statement at the consultative meeting on Hepatitis E outbreak control here on Wednesday.
“How will Namibia handle a Cholera outbreak, which is more deadly, if they cannot stop Hepatitis E from spreading,” Dziuban questioned.
He added that this outbreak in Namibia specifically is a unique case, because this disease which has a cure is still infecting and killing people.
“This disease, which is usually found in refugee camps around the world, is found in the informal settlements,” Dziuban said.
At the same event, the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) announced there have been 4 432 cases of Hepatitis E reported countrywide as of 27 January 2019.
There have been 40 deaths due to this disease, of which 17 were maternal deaths, pregnant and postpartum women.
A Hepatitis E outbreak was officially declared in December 2017 in Windhoek and has been reported in other parts of the country since, including the Erongo, Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto, Kavango (East and West) and Ohangwena regions.
Recently, an increasing number of new cases have been reported in the Omaheke Region, said Emmy-Else Ndevaetela, a representative of MoHSS who gave a presentation at the same meeting.
Hepatitis E virus outbreaks occur mainly in areas where people do not have access to safe drinking water and toilet facilities, overcrowded environments and areas where general hygiene is poor. Most of the cases were recorded in the DRC informal settlement in Swakopmund and Havana and Goreangab informal settlements in Windhoek.
Furthermore, the World Health Organisation donated 1 800 kits to the national laboratory to facilitate local testing for Hepatitis E while CDC and Namax Pharmaceuticals contributed 600 and 800 kits respectively.