Diarrhoea at Mariental

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK About 50 cases of diarrhoea have been reported at the flood-ravaged town of Mariental in just a period of four days. Yesterday, National Program and Operations Manager Abel Augustinio confirmed to New Era that during the weekend, about 20 cases of stomach flu were reported to officials distributing water purification tablets. Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Dr Kalumbi Shangula said based on reports received by his office yesterday, 11 cases of diarrhoea were reported last Thursday and this involved seven adults and four children. The following day saw up to 19 cases – eight of them children and 11 adults. Shangula said: “These cases are due to lack of potable water.” The cases are prevalent in informal settlement areas where most farm workers and their families reside. According to Augustinio, the muddy water from canals that carry water for irrigation caused the problem. “This time the water is very muddy and that means that the chemical content in the water is so high that it irritates the lining of the stomach.” However, it is also alleged that some businesses have been dumping their expired foodstuffs into the open and people have been collecting the food for consumption. Governor of the Hardap Region Katrina Hanse confirmed that people, not necessarily those who were badly affected by the floods, have been frequenting the dumping site. As a result, stomach problem cases have been reported especially during the weekend. To curb the problem, the governor said a team would be deployed to the site to turn away those who go scavenging for food. Health inspectors have visited most shops at the town inspecting especially consumable goods and those found not to be fit for human consumption were discarded. In the meantime, Namibia Red Cross Society is distributing water purification tablets to families. At the weekend, only about 500 households received the tablets. “We received about 150 boxes x 150 000 water purification sachets and this is enough to distribute to all affected families for one month,” stated Augustinio. Distribution of hygiene kits is expected today or tomorrow. Although the Red Cross has also distributed mosquito nets to about 2 000 households at the town, four malaria cases have been reported so far. After the floods hit the town of Mariental, the affected 2 000 families were in need of potable water, water purification tablets, water containers, mobile toilets for households, a mobile clinic, mosquito nets, first aid kits and hygiene kits containing soap, toothpaste, petroleum jelly, disinfectant solution and sanitary pads. Quite a number of these items have been distributed to the affected families especially after the Namibia Red Cross appealed to both local and international bodies for assistance. Hanse expressed gratitude to all individuals and businesses that have come out to help. She described the situation as calm at the moment, considering that the water dam level is at 80 percent. “People have water though some places still do not have potable water,” she added. Meanwhile, a task force that includes engineers and hydrologists from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry will meet tomorrow to chart a preparedness plan to avert future floods at the town.

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