Bolster fight against hepatitis E

The World Health Organisation has urged Namibia to urgently step up its methods to fight hepatitis E and put an end to the prolonged outbreak.

22 August 2019 | Health

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has again urged Namibia to boost its response to the protracted hepatitis E outbreak which has claimed the lives of 56 people and infected more than 6 000 over the past two years.

Meanwhile, since the onset of the outbreak in September 2017, the hepatitis E virus has become the leading cause of maternal deaths according to Dr Lilian Kahuika, an epidemiologist in the health ministry.

Of the 56 hepatitis E deaths recorded by 11 August, 23 were maternal deaths. A fatality is defined as maternal when a woman dies during pregnancy or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy.

Kahuika said the women who died from hepatitis E before or after giving birth were between 19 and 38 years old.

The latest statistics show that the number of hepatitis E infections have eclipsed the 6 000 mark, with a total number of 6 151 cases reported by 11 August.

The statistics further show that of the cases reported, 342 were maternal cases.

Former health minister Dr Bernard Haufiku, who heads the national health emergency management committee in response to the outbreak, warned earlier this month that hepatitis E was a growing threat to public health in Namibia.

“If the current situation is allowed to continue unabated, hepatitis E will become endemic in Namibia and Namibia will struggle to get rid of the virus in the community and we may actually never get rid of it at all,” he said.



WHO warning

The WHO's weekly bulletin on public health emergencies in Africa repeats its earlier warning to Namibian authorities to step up efforts to stop the outbreak.

The report says although a slight dip in new infections in recent weeks is encouraging, “a lot more work needs to be done to drastically interrupt transmission of infections”.

The WHO notes that ongoing efforts to respond to the outbreak are “still being hindered by many factors, including weak coordination at all levels, inadequate risk communication and community engagement and participation, and low levels of safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions.”

Moreover, the report stresses that poor sanitation and scarce access to safe drinking water in informal settlements compound the situation.

Although a national hepatitis E plan has been drawn up, it has not yet been ratified by the authorities and is not adequately resourced, it says.



Staggering

The first cases of hepatitis E were reported in the Khomas Region in September 2017.

Of the 6 151 cases reported by 11 August, the Khomas Region's informal settlements remain the hardest hit, with a total of 3 894 (63%) of all reported cases detected in some of the country's poorest neighbourhoods. Thirty-five of the 56 deaths reported to date were recorded in the Khomas Region.

The Erongo Region has reported the second highest number of

1 393 cases (23% of the total) and six deaths.

Increased hepatitis testing at health facilities has also led to the diagnosis of 137 hepatitis A cases, of which 81 were recorded in the Omusati Region this year, as well as 168 cases of hepatitis B, of which 61 were recorded in the Omusati Region.

“I have said it time and again, that hepatitis E and even A are diseases of poverty and low socio-economic status, where there is a lack of clean water and poor personal hygiene,” Haufiku told Namibian Sun.

He said although several campaigns are under way to curb the outbreak, there is a strong push to consider alternative options, “as our current intervention seem not to take us anywhere”.

He said the teams are “looking at all potential and available options including considerations for a vaccine against hepatitis E, because we simply cannot allow the situation to continue as it is now.”

JANA-MARI SMITH

Similar News

 

One third of men unaware of positive status

1 day - 30 November 2021 | Health

The analysis was made using results from nationally representative household surveys carried out from 2015 to 2019 in Namibia, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya,...

80% of Namibians unvaccinated as new variant looms large

5 days ago - 26 November 2021 | Health

Henriette Lamprecht WINDHOEKNamibia is always concerned about the presence of viruses, in whatever form...

Average life expectancy with Parkinson’s

1 week ago - 23 November 2021 | Health

Modern medications and treatments mean that people can manage their symptoms and reduce the occurrence or severity of complications, which might otherwise be fatal.Several factors...

Nangombe calls for practicality in healthcare sector

1 week ago - 23 November 2021 | Health

ESTER KAMATI WINDHOEKHealth ministry executive director Ben Nangombe last week urged stakeholders not to let down the people who have entrusted them...

Rundu man dies under tree after clinic ‘refused’ to...

1 week ago - 22 November 2021 | Health

KENYA KAMBOWE RUNDU A 32-year-old man took his last breath under a mango tree outside Sauyemwa clinic after nurses allegedly refused to...

ReconAfrica millions to boost Covid vaccinations in Kavango

1 week ago - 22 November 2021 | Health

Kenya Kambowe RUNDUPart of the N$15 million donated by ReconAfrica to government in June has been directed to Covid-19 vaccination programmes...

Namibians increasingly shun cigarettes

1 week ago - 19 November 2021 | Health

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThe World Health Organisation’s (WHO) fourth global tobacco trends report shows that there are now 1.3 billion tobacco users in the world, compared to...

Hepatitis E cases drop significantly

1 week ago - 18 November 2021 | Health

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKHepatitis E cases in Namibia have shown a major decline since the outbreak started in 2017, while deaths have dropped to zero from January...

STAR Compounds Show Potential to Treat GBA1-linked Parkinson’s

2 weeks ago - 16 November 2021 | Health

GT-02287 and GT-02329 are known as STARs, which stands for structurally targeted allosteric regulators. These regulators are designed to help mutated proteins fold correctly and...

First oral rabies vaccination of dogs done

2 weeks ago - 16 November 2021 | Health

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThe agriculture ministry last month successfully conducted its first field oral rabies vaccination of dogs in the Oshana and Omusati regions.According to the ministry,...

Latest News

The recovery of the rental...

18 hours ago | Economics

PHILLEPUS UUSIKUAlthough rental markets across most advanced economies are on a path of recovery due to the resumption of “normal life”, improved pace of Covid-19...

Van Wyk reports ACC to...

18 hours ago | Justice

OGONE TLHAGE WINDHOEKFishrot lackey Nigel van Wyk, in a report to the Office of...

Defence grilled over unapproved weapons...

18 hours ago | Ministries

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEKThe defence ministry has bought, without Treasury approval, weapons worth N$5 million from its own ammunition manufacturing company, Ndilimani...

Govt, unions in stalemate over...

18 hours ago | Labour

ESTER KAMATI WINDHOEKCivil servants will have to face another year without a salary increase as discussions, which took place on Monday, between...

SA's Covid-19 cases could triple...

18 hours ago | Economics

ALEXANDER WINNING AND WENDELL ROELFSouth Africa's daily Covid-19 infection rate could triple to more than 10 000 by the end of this week as the...

Global jet fuel demand under...

18 hours ago | Economics

Global jet fuel markets stayed under pressure on Tuesday as more countries expanded border restrictions to keep the new Omicron coronavirus variant at bay, prompting...

EDITORIAL: Pohamba is embossing himself

18 hours ago | Opinion

Former President Hifikepunye Pohamba has been in the news this week for unsavoury reasons.In strict law terms, Pohamba has every right to kick pensioner Amanda...

Omicron raises new fears for...

18 hours ago | Economics

Delphine Touitou - Just as it was recovering from the body blow of the Covid-19 pandemic, the global economy has taken yet another hit from...

Expats in Namibia: Tax considerations

18 hours ago | Business

Johan Nel - Namibia has a source-based tax system. Income that has accrued, or deemed to have accrued, from sources within Namibia will form part...

Load More