Hepatitis still raging on

15 April 2019 | Health

The hepatitis E outbreak in Namibia which has raged on for a year and a half, claimed another life bringing the total number of deaths to 42 while continuing to infect dozens of Namibians each week.

The most recent available data for the period 11 to 24 March show that during that period a total of 108 new hepatitis E cases were reported.

This is a “slight decline, when compared to 157 cases reported during the previous two weeks”.

The hepatitis E report warns that “although a remarkable decline has been noted during the last few weeks, the outbreak continues to be protracted, and most of the cases are still being detected in areas where water and toilet facilities are limited.”

The report lists a key challenge to contain the outbreak is the “sub-optimal coordination of the outbreak response at all levels”.

Moreover, “inadequate” interventions related to health and hygiene actions and awareness, as well as “inadequate risk communication strategies” are highlighted as key issues.

The report also notes that due to the “current economic downturn” in Namibia, the ministry has not had sufficient epidemiologists and other relevant staff on board to support the surveillance and data management to tackle the drawn-out outbreak.

Speaking at the commemoration of World Health Day last week, health minister Kalumbi Shangula said the outbreak “is a serious public health threat and it must be treated as such. There are only three countries in the world where the disease is found.”

The 1 to 7 April weekly bulletin on outbreaks and other emergencies issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO), listed the three countries as South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Namibia. Namibia's current outbreak has endured the longest and, according to the data made available to WHO, has killed significantly more people.

To date, one death was reported in both Central African Republic and South Sudan, compared to the 42 deaths in Namibia. This is based on available data accessed by the WHO.

“It is a shame that Namibia finds herself in this league of countries,” the minister said last week.


Most of the new cases over the two weeks up to 24 March were detected in the Khomas Region (48), followed by 28 new cases in Erongo, nine in Kavango and six in the Omaheke Region, with the remainder spread out in other regions.

The latest reported death was a Swakopmund woman, who was either pregnant or had recently delivered a baby, who died on 17 March.

As of 24 March, 18 Namibian women who were pregnant or had only recently given birth have died from hepatitis E.

A cumulative total of 4 913 hepatitis E cases have been reported, of which 824 are laboratory confirmed, 3 421 epi-linked and 668 suspected or probable cases.

The poorest residential neighbourhoods remain most impacted, especially in the Khomas Region, where 30 persons have died from hepatitis and more than 3 300 persons have been infected, totalling 67.2% of the total infections.

The Erongo Region, where the DRC informal settlement is also struggling to provide access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene, is ranked after Khomas with 1 086 (22.1% of total cases) reported.

Males accounted for 60% of the infected, and the majority of cases are recorded among those in the age group 20 to 39.

Shangula last week stressed the ministry recently re-launched the national campaign to combat hepatitis E under the tag-name 'Operation Sanitiser'.

The campaign was prompted by an assessment carried out by the WHO in several impacted regions, which identified major gaps in the response authorities have demonstrated to bring the outbreak under control.

Priority interventions identified include intensifying the outbreak response through effective coordination and the use of “available” human and financial resources.

Another key intervention is a “massive scaling up of hygiene and sanitation promotion campaigns”.


Similar News


Hepatitis still raging on

1 week ago - 15 April 2019 | Health

The hepatitis E outbreak in Namibia which has raged on for a year and a half, claimed another life bringing the total number of deaths...

Namibia makes progress on child malnutrition

1 week ago - 11 April 2019 | Health

The latest global estimates indicate that malnutrition among Namibian children under five years old has decreased since the year 2000.The new Joint Child Malnutrition Estimates...

Hospital hygiene leaves much to be desired

2 weeks ago - 05 April 2019 | Health

The poor hygiene at Namibian hospitals, which has made news headlines over the years, has once again been highlighted in a World Health Organisation (WHO)...

N$156bn lost to diseases

2 weeks ago - 03 April 2019 | Health

Diseases afflicting Namibia's population resulted in a N$156 billion loss to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2015 alone. They were also responsible for...

Rotten to the core

2 weeks ago - 02 April 2019 | Health

If the corruption plaguing the Public Service Medical Aid Scheme (Psemas) is not halted, government will be compelled to transform the scheme and disadvantage low-earning...

Sharing tombo, kapana linked to hepatitis E

3 weeks ago - 27 March 2019 | Health

Research conducted by the University of Namibia (Unam), in close collaboration with Cardiff University, has found that the ongoing hepatitis E outbreak in informal areas...

Government pharmaceutical plant on hold

1 month - 22 March 2019 | Health

Government's plan to construct a pharmaceutical plant is on hold until various agreements are reached with private sector partners involved in the project.This is according...

Health buckles under meds shortage

1 month - 18 March 2019 | Health

A consignment of critically needed antibiotics is on hold at Customs in Walvis Bay after the supplier's import permit expired.The executive director of the health...

Katutura prepares to eradicate cockroaches

1 month - 18 March 2019 | Health

The Katutura Intermediate Hospital has announced plans to eradicate its resident pests, including the infamous cockroaches, from the hospital.Delivering a ministerial statement in parliament last...

Health defends cancelling tea and biscuits

1 month - 13 March 2019 | Health

The health ministry estimates it will achieve savings of between N$50 million to N$60 million annually following a directive to stop serving tea, coffee and...

Latest News

Chinese embassy condemns Andara killing

3 days ago - 18 April 2019 | Crime

The Chinese embassy has condemned the killing of a 32-year-old man at Andara in Kavango East yesterday. The man was allegedly shot and killed by...

Thought Leadership

4 days ago - 18 April 2019 | Columns

Ashante MannettiIn this fast-paced world we try to juggle a million things at once. Job, family, friends, eating healthy and we know we still need...

Taking charge

4 days ago - 18 April 2019 | People

Mariselle Stofberg Anthea van Heerden decided to take a leap of faith to start her own company in Windhoek.She is the managing director and...

Chained worker 'joke' backfires

4 days ago - 18 April 2019 | Labour

Nic Kruger, the owner of Kruger Trading Enterprises (KTE) Custom Body Work in Windhoek, yesterday vehemently defended the honour of his foreman who had chained...

Gangster's paradise

4 days ago - 18 April 2019 | Government

President Hage Geingob has revealed that 329 red-flagged financial transactions, involving N$9.2 billion, have been referred by the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) for further investigation...

ACC probes Katiti

4 days ago - 18 April 2019 | Crime

Augustinus Katiti's attempts to have the Anti-Corruption Commission investigate his successor at the Namibia Institute of Pathology have backfired. The ACC is now investigating Katiti...

Kabajani blossoms at GIPF

4 days ago - 18 April 2019 | People

Michelline Nawatises Annette Likeleli Kabajani is a holder of a bachelor’s degree from the University of Namibia (Unam). She has also attained several management and...

Baking a name for herself!

4 days ago - 18 April 2019 | People

Ester Kamati At the age of 28, Alma Tangi Nakanduungileh is climbing the entrepreneurial ladder and adding sweetness to her clients’ lives. A qualified...

A passion to unlock potential

4 days ago - 18 April 2019 | People

Ester KamatiJustina Mulokoshi is a chartered accountant (CA) at PwC who has big dreams and is constantly on the lookout for new ways to improve...

Load More