Windhoek-Namibian dermatologist Dr Naita Mukete-Nghalipoh has cautioned people to refrain from using second-hand undergarments such as bras, panties and underpants because of health risks.
The sale of second-hand clothes including undergarments is a thriving business in Namibia, despite health concerns.
Mukete-Nghalipoh, who acknowledges the economic situation as one of the reasons driving low-income earners to settle for cheap second-hand garments, said people should avoid using such undergarments because of the health risks, as some bacteria are very resistant and can survive harsh conditions for long periods on clothes.
“Regular wash may not get rid of some of the bacteria especially those that came from discharge from the body of the previous user,” she said.
Mukete-Nghalipoh said that users of second-hand clothes, especially underwear previously used by infected persons, risk contracting vaginal and skin candidiasis, scabies, tinea corporis, gonorrhea, and syphilis, among other infections.
However she said the risk of infection is heightened when users fail to properly wash, disinfect and iron those undergarments.
When New Era visited small businesses selling second-hand clothes in Okuryangava opposite Tobias Hainyeko Primary School, the team discovered the market sells all sorts of clothes at very low prices.
“The children’s clothes range between N$10 and N$25 while adult clothes range between N$25 to N$50,” says Sani Amoomo.
Amoomo said because of the garments’ quality, most people, especially low-income earners, prefer buying from the flea market than from Chinese shops where quality is compromised.
Amoomo, who has been in the second-hand clothes business since 1993, said the penetration of Chinese shops in all corners of Katutura does not pose a threat to her as most of the people prefer buying second-hand garments than the expensive poor-quality clothes from Chinese shops.
“Those are quality clothes and I would rather buy them than buy poor-quality stuff from some shops,” said a buyer while sifting through a pile of clothes heaped on the ground.
When asked whether she was aware of the health risks, the customer who identified herself as Nally admitted to being aware of the health risks, adding however that she could not afford buying new quality clothes in shops at a cheaper price.