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Friday 18 January 2019
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The fight against major pandemics

The epidemiology department in the Ministry Health and Social Services is hard at work to ensure that Hepatitis E, Cholera and Congo fever are brought under control.

As of 9 February 2018, the department recorded 710 cases of Hepatitis E. Of those cases, 51 have tested positive while 17 tests were negative, 412 are epi-linked while 148 test results are still pending.

 

 

The ministry has confirmed that there has been no new cases recorded for both Cholera and Congo fever. Earlier this month, the health ministry confirmed the outbreak of cholera when a 10-year-old from Katutura tested positive. Medical test done a week later tested negative and the patient has now recovered.

Similarly, a man from Gobabis who was tested positive for Congo Fever at Windhoek Central Hospital is recovering well said health officials.

“It seems we have things under control at the moment as we have not recorded more cases. The Gobabis district is doing the usual to prevent another outbreak and here in Windhoek we continue to be on the ground,” said the ministry’s medical epidemiologist in the epidemiology division Dr. Lilliane Kahuika.

 

 

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a widespread disease caused by a tick-borne virus of the Bunyaviridae family. The virus is primarily transmitted to people from ticks and livestock animals. Human-to-human transmission can occur resulting from close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected persons. According to Kahuika, the Gobabis district has already started with the livestock vaccination project to control the disease from spreading.

Cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe watery diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and even death if untreated. It is caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with a bacterium called Vibrio cholerae.

“We have established health committees and the different stakeholders in this fight are playing their part. Currently, the health education officers in the field are setting up water structures and educating the public on the importance of washing their hands,” she said.

 

 

She stressed that creating awareness, social mobilisation and behaviour change communication should be intensified in schools and communities.

The majority of cases of hepatitis E have been reported from the Havana informal settlement and the Goreangab area in Windhoek.

“We have started making clean water available for the residents in these areas. On top of these efforts, we have also started with cleaning campaigns in the areas but we still need the community’s commitment. Some people are still vandalizing the toilets meaning they are taking us two steps back after taking one forward,” she said.

Kahuika has observed that the residents of these areas still collect water from riverbeds, an unsafe practice which the ministry continues to discourage. “As such, the health team on the ground is currently distributing water purification tablets to the residents. They have also lobbied for the increase of chlorine in the water in these areas to help kill germs.”

 

 

“We can see victory in the horizon but there is still a lot to do. We need the community to work with us in every way if we are to see the situation getting better,” she said.

She further urged pregnant women to visit health facilities for regular check-ups because they are more vulnerable to the disease.

Pregnant women show a more severe course of infection than other populations. Besides signs of an acute infection, adverse maternal and fetal outcomes may include preterm delivery, abortion, stillbirth, and intrauterine fetal and neonatal death. To date, the waterborne disease has led to three maternal deaths in Namibia.

The epidemiology department in the Ministry Health and Social Services is hard at work to ensure that Hepatitis E, Cholera and Congo fever are brought under control.

As of 9 February 2018, the department recorded 710 cases of Hepatitis E. Of those cases, 51 have tested positive while 17 tests were negative, 412 are epi-linked while 148 test results are still pending.

The ministry has confirmed that there has been no new cases recorded for both Cholera and Congo fever. Earlier this month, the health ministry confirmed the outbreak of cholera when a 10-year-old from Katutura tested positive. Medical test done a week later tested negative and the patient has now recovered.

 

Similarly, a man from Gobabis who was tested positive for Congo Fever at Windhoek Central Hospital is recovering well said health officials.

“It seems we have things under control at the moment as we have not recorded more cases. The Gobabis district is doing the usual to prevent another outbreak and here in Windhoek we continue to be on the ground,” said the ministry’s medical epidemiologist in the epidemiology division Dr. Lilliane Kahuika.

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a widespread disease caused by a tick-borne virus of the Bunyaviridae family. The virus is primarily transmitted to people from ticks and livestock animals. Human-to-human transmission can occur resulting from close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected persons. According to Kahuika, the Gobabis district has already started with the livestock vaccination project to control the disease from spreading.

Cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe watery diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and even death if untreated. It is caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with a bacterium called Vibrio cholerae.

“We have established health committees and the different stakeholders in this fight are playing their part. Currently, the health education officers in the field are setting up water structures and educating the public on the importance of washing their hands,” she said.

She stressed that creating awareness, social mobilisation and behaviour change communication should be intensified in schools and communities.

 

 

The majority of cases of hepatitis E have been reported from the Havana informal settlement and the Goreangab area in Windhoek.

“We have started making clean water available for the residents in these areas. On top of these efforts, we have also started with cleaning campaigns in the areas but we still need the community’s commitment. Some people are still vandalizing the toilets meaning they are taking us two steps back after taking one forward,” she said.

Kahuika has observed that the residents of these areas still collect water from riverbeds, an unsafe practice which the ministry continues to discourage. “As such, the health team on the ground is currently distributing water purification tablets to the residents. They have also lobbied for the increase of chlorine in the water in these areas to help kill germs.”

“We can see victory in the horizon but there is still a lot to do. We need the community to work with us in every way if we are to see the situation getting better,” she said.

She further urged pregnant women to visit health facilities for regular check-ups because they are more vulnerable to the disease.

Pregnant women show a more severe course of infection than other populations. Besides signs of an acute infection, adverse maternal and fetal outcomes may include preterm delivery, abortion, stillbirth, and intrauterine fetal and neonatal death. To date, the waterborne disease has led to three maternal deaths in Namibia.




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