08 Mar 2019 10:50am
OUTAPI, 08 MAR (NAMPA) Since the 2017 outbreak of Hepatitis E in Namibia, 620 cases have been confirmed by laboratory tests as positive, Special Advisor for Health and Social Services in the Office of the Vice President, Bernard Haufiku has said.
Speaking at the relaunch of the national response to the Hepatitis E outbreak here in the Omusati Region on Thursday, Haufiku said 41 people lost their lives of which 17 were pregnant women, representing 42,5 per cent of all deaths due to the infection.
He emphasised that the relaunch of the campaign under the code name Operation Sanitiser was prompted by the rapid assessment carried out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the Oshana, Omusati and Erongo regions, where it picked up huge gaps in the response to overcome the disease.
Haufiku noted that key among identified gaps are poor coordination among stakeholders and technical response teams and the challenges around provision of water, sanitation and hygiene.
If we provide clean affordable water, sanitation and promote personal hygiene among our people especially in the informal settlements, we will get rid of Hepatitis E, he noted.
Haufiku further said informal settlements across the country have similar problems such as lack of toilets and water, therefore there is a need to implement a strategy of community-initiated total sanitation, as building toilets for the communities on commercial basis will not solve the problem.
I have heard of reports of a contractor who charged N.dollars 700 000 to build one toilet, gold-plated maybe, but that will not solve the problem of sanitation in Namibia, only make it more poor than we already are, he said.
The former health minister on the way forward in addressing Hepatitis E said a multi-stakeholder and partnership national response coordination committee has been established.
Further, an emergency operation centre is set up in Windhoek and will start on Monday to coordinate the response and all its structures and activities.
The Omusati Region recorded 102 confirmed cases of Hepatitis E.