By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Minister of Health and Social Services Richard Kamwi has commended hospitals at the town of Walvis Bay for their swift response in containing the diarrhoea outbreak that hit the town a few weeks ago. In an interview with New Era, the minister expressed his gratitude to staff of the Walvis Bay State hospital and Welvitschia hospital, stating that they have given a true meaning to the role of the health sector. The outbreak claimed the lives of eight infants and one adult in just 10 days. Basing his comments on an assessment report forwarded to his office by a team sent to the town last week, Kamwi confirmed that the insufficient water supply in Walvis Bay compromised the health of the town’s residents. In January this year, 407 diarrhoea cases were recorded and in February, the number rose to 487. However, “the situation is now under control”, he assured. “The response by the private and public health sectors, the community and businesses is amazing,” he added. The heat wave, Kamwi added, also contributed to the problem. “Naturally, you expect diarrhoea around this time of the year when the coastal towns are hot but water also contributed.” Meanwhile, Deputy Matron at Walvis Bay State Hospital Foibe Angula also confirmed that the cases of diarrhoea have dropped significantly, with the hospital handling only five under-five cases by yesterday. She described the situation of these children as stable. Unlike two weeks ago when the hospital would have more than 200 people reporting cases, the hospital has returned to its normal operations, the deputy matron says. “The five children are stable. When I went to the wards they were running, they are just here so that we just further monitor their situation,” she said. Angula strongly encouraged the town’s residents to continue practicing basic hygiene such as boiling drinking water, washing hands before handling food and always using latrines for human waste disposal. Similarly, the private Welwitschia hospital reported a drop in the number of admissions. Yesterday, there were three patients, two in the general ward and one in the paediatric ward, unlike two weeks ago when the hospital had about 10 cases in the paediatric ward and five in the general ward. Matron at Welwitschia hospital Aleta Walter said although diarrhoea cases are common during seasons of extreme temperatures, this year’s situation has been shocking, with fatal cases reported. The problem was attributed to lack of clean water at the town. Residents of Walvis Bay were until last week living without water for most part of the day due to Namwater’s water facility restoring programmes at the town. Angula stated that residents at the town would have water for only three hours in the morning from 6am till 9am and in the evening from 6pm till 9pm. This led to a situation where toilets would be used but not flushed, and dirty dishes kept in kitchens. Moreover, the few hours the taps would be running, the water would be brownish in colour, a sign of contamination. However, Johannes Shigwedha, Public Relations Officer at Namwater said that the water rationing at the town was due to upgrades of some infrastructure that was damaged by floods in the Kuiseb river. He denied allegations that water could be contaminated.
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