Eveline de Klerk
WALVIS BAY – The Ministry of Health and Social Services in Erongo Region, various local authorities and the governor’s office are on high alert for more cases of hepatitis E, after four persons tested positive for the disease in Swakopmund.
The cases were detected in Mondesa and DRC. Acting regional health director Dr Amir Shakir yesterday indicated there are 32 other suspected cases whose results are pending.
He explained that samples of the cases were sent to South Africa and the diagnosis would take about two weeks.
Meanwhile, he says measures to control the spread of the virus have already started.
Namibia has been battling the disease since October last year with more than 500 confirmed cases and at least 14 deaths since the outbreak.
Hepatitis E is contracted through faecal-contaminated water and environmental contamination due to poor sanitation.
Governor of the Erongo Region, Cleophas Mutjavikua, yesterday told New Era that he was briefed by Dr Shakir, upon which he alerted all towns and settlements in the region to sensitise residents.
“As we are speaking we are about to go into an emergency meeting with all mayors and health officials of local authorities so that we can embark upon an awareness campaign as from tomorrow through the local authorities and educate our people,” Mutjavikua said.
Dr Lilliane Kahuika from the health ministry’s epidemiology division yesterday told New Era that the detection of the cases is treated as an outbreak and will receive urgent attention.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that although hepatitis A, B, and C are common in Namibia, hepatitis E is rarely diagnosed in the country. As a result, the country has limited capacity for hepatitis E laboratory diagnosis.
Additionally, the majority of hepatitis E cases have been reported from informal settlements where living conditions are poor.
These areas are overcrowded and have limited access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene