By Confidente Reporter
AT least 3000 suspected cases of Hepatitis E were reported in the country’s nine regions, the Ministry of Health and Social Services’ Permanent Secretary, Ben Nangombe has said.
Khomas recorded the highest number of suspected cases with 2 232 which resulted in 20 deaths from 124 laboratory confirmed cases. The region is followed by Erongo which recorded 445 suspected cases with 201 cases laboratory confirmed which resulted in a single death. The Omusati region recorded 163 suspected cases with 47 of them being confirmed that resulted in two people dying from the disease.
Oshana region recorded 52 suspected cases of Hepatitis E which saw 35 cases being confirmed. Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Kavango East, Hardap and Otjozondjupa regions, although they recorded 55 laboratory confirmed cases, no deaths were recorded while Omaheke, Kavango West, //Kharas, Kunene and Zambezi regions did not report any suspected cases of Hepatitis E.
Nangombe warned the public against shaking hands at weddings, funerals and trade fairs to ensure that the disease is not spread.
“For large gatherings such as weddings, funerals and trade fairs, organisers should ensure provision of safe drinking water, hand washing facilities (running water), and adequate sanitation facilities with hand washing stations and safe covered food to reduce risk of infection. Members of the public are advised to avoid shaking hands at these gatherings in order to minimise contact with contaminated hands,” he said.
He added that the ministry recognised that a combination of surveillance, safe water supply, sanitation and hygiene, social mobilisation and treatment is the most effective approach against the disease.
“Therefore, a multifaceted approach (with local authorities, regional council, line ministries and other non-governmental organisations) has been used to control Hepatitis E and reduce deaths. Potable water supply and sanitation facilities were set up in informal settlements of Windhoek (Havana and Goreangab). A team of health workers has been deployed to raise awareness on the affected areas,” said the Health PS.
The Hepatitis E outbreak was first reported in October 2017.
The outbreak is concentrated in the informal settlements of Havana, Goreangab, Hakahana, Greenwell Matongo, Ombili and the broader Katutura in Windhoek.
Hepatitis E is a liver infection spread either by direct contact with an infected person’s faeces or by indirect faecal contamination of food or water. Infection is more severe among pregnant women as they are at greater risk of acute liver failure, foetal loss and death.
The outbreak is fuelled mainly by a lack of clean water, poor sanitation and poor personal hygiene.
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