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.


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.”


Similar News


Leaders must reveal their corona status - Simataa

2 days ago - 13 August 2020 | Health

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKSecretary to cabinet George Simataa, who recently tested positive for Covid-19, believes that high-ranking officials who have tested positive should declare their health status...

PM in isolation as Stage 3 returns

2 days ago - 13 August 2020 | Health

Restriction of movement now nationwideThe Prime Minister, her deputy and the cabinet secretary are all grounded as the government swiftly moved to restrict movement amid...

Walvis, Swakop ‘escapees’ sent back

2 days ago - 13 August 2020 | Health

LEANDREA LOUWWALVIS BAYMembers of the security cluster in the Erongo Region have sent back 30 residents who tried to use backroad “escape routes” out of...

25% of kids 'stunted, impaired'

2 days ago - 13 August 2020 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEKOne quarter of Namibian children are malnourished, with stunted growth and impaired mental development, because of the country's high food insecurity, according to...

#Covid19SafetyChallenge closing date extended

4 days ago - 11 August 2020 | Health

Justicia Shipena LifeLine ChildLine, through Uitani Radio, invites young people of all ages to participate in the #Covid19SafetyChallenge.This competition aims to monitor how many...

Covid-19 looms over Windhoek

5 days ago - 10 August 2020 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEK Windhoek is increasingly becoming the new epicentre of the country's Covid-19 outbreak with 32 out of 50 cases reported...

Pupil who spat on desks tests negative for corona

5 days ago - 10 August 2020 | Health

Kenya Kambowe RUNDU A grade 11 Mupewa Combined School learner who had been in close contact with a Covid-19 patient,...

Contraceptive shortage: 27 900 unintended pregnancies feared

1 week ago - 06 August 2020 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKESWINDHOEKA study predicts that up to 27 900 unintended pregnancies may occur in Namibia because of a shortage of contraceptives brought about by the...

39 health workers test positive for Covid-19

1 week ago - 05 August 2020 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEKTo date, 39 healthcare workers have tested positive for the coronavirus, putting Namibia’s Covid-19 response under pressure.On Monday and...

Shangula got me fired – Haufiku

1 week ago - 04 August 2020 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEKSacked presidential health advisor Dr Bernhard Haufiku yesterday said his sudden dismissal was engineered by health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula.According to...

Latest News

Thought leadership

1 day - 14 August 2020 | People

NDANGI KATOMAIn a very short time, the coronavirus has changed so much about our lives.It is easy to think you’ll never get ahead when you...

Marketing through the lens of...

1 day - 14 August 2020 | People

ESTER KAMATIAs part of the DOLOLO group of entrepreneurs and a 2019 alumnus of the Africa Pathfinders Leadership initiative, Andreas Elifas’s objective is to attain...

Price monster hungry

1 day - 14 August 2020 | Economics

Although annual overall inflation in Namibia last month stayed unchanged at 2.1%, annual overall food inflation increased to 6.2% - up from 4.9% in June...

Tough times for mines in...

1 day - 14 August 2020 | Business

Jo-Maré Duddy – Of the 16 operating mining companies included in the latest annual review of the Chamber of Mines of Namibia, six last year...

Fishing quota auction storm grows

1 day - 14 August 2020 | Fishing

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKGovernment's decision to auction off its fishing quota, and then use the proceeds to finance its efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic is continuing...

Samherji begs for release of...

1 day - 14 August 2020 | Fishing

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKIcelandic firm Samherji, which is at the centre of the Fishrot bribery scandal, has asked Namibian authorities to release its fishing vessel Heinaste, which...

Education kneecapped by shortage of...

1 day - 14 August 2020 | Education

KENYA KAMBOWERUNDUEducation minister Anna Nghipondoka says Namibia has a backlog of over 5 000 classrooms, which has made it a challenge to comply with the...

Growing hip-hop in the north

1 day - 14 August 2020 | Art and Entertainment

MICHAEL KAYUNDE WINDHOEKSkipper Wills' breakthrough came in 2017 when he was selected to take part in the Old & New hip-hop documentary. He has since...

Kay-Z Bearens on his 2020...

1 day - 14 August 2020 | Art and Entertainment

MICHAEL KAYUNDE WINDHOEK Rapper Kay-Z Bearens released his first single in 2015, and though on the underground scene, he's pushed his music over the years.In...

Load More