Sick San call for help

An investigation has been ordered into a strange disease that has been causing havoc in the San community in Kavango East.

13 October 2020 | Health

JANA-MARI SMITH

WINDHOEK



An infectious skin disease affecting a San village in the Kavango East Region is being investigated by state health officials after an urgent appeal for help last week.

Several members of the San community of Ndama, an informal settlement close to Rundu, have reportedly been infected by the undiagnosed skin disease that causes open sores and scarring. Medical cards show that the disease has spread among community members of all ages. Although it has been present for months, no diagnosis has been made despite visits to local hospitals and clinics.



Urgent appeal

Last week the Women's Leadership Centre (WLC) issued an urgent call for help urging the health ministry, the Office of the Marginalised and the Ombudsman's Office to help identify and treat the disease.

It is unclear how many people have been infected.





“We were informed that this started in February 2020 in Nconocoma village, where some children from Ndama visited their relatives and came back with rashes that later developed into open wounds and spread throughout the village,” the WLC said.

The WLC was informed that when people sought help from nearby clinics and hospitals, they were only given paracetamol and calamine lotion.

Others were told to buy medication from private pharmacies, the WLC stated after talks with the community.“The treatments offered did not help, and there have been no blood tests or any other relevant tests to determine the cause of the infection,” the WLC said.

They stated further that no staff from the health ministry or any community health workers visited the village to assess the situation.



Investigating

The health ministry yesterday said it had ordered an investigation.

“The Kavango East Health Directorate is getting the information on the ground and we will get back to you soonest when then the information is available,” Manga Libita of the ministry said.

The WLC warned last week that intervention was urgently needed, as “this is a highly infectious disease that is spreading fast among San communities. We demand that their right to health and dignity be respected.”

Yesterday, WLC programme officer Nadia April said the ministry contacted the organisation last week to advise that the issue would be investigated.

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