Swakopmund: 860 cases of Hepatitis E reported

A shocking number of 860 cases of the Hepatitis E virus is currently reported in Swakopmund since the outbreak which was confirmed in June this year. To control this outbreak the World Health Organisation (WHO) has come on board to support the Swakopmund Municipality.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) would like to support the community of Swakopmund to fight the spread of Hepatatis E through conducting a Risk Communication/Social Mobilisation/Community Engagement Intervention towards the control of Hepatitis E. On Tuesday this week, the Mayor of Swakopmund Pauline Nashilundo and WHO Representative in Namibia Dr Charles Sagoe-Moses, signed a ceremonial agreement and launched the Risk Communication Project at the DRC Informal Settlement, which is the area mostly affected by the virus.
Standing in for the Director of the Ministry of Health and Social Services Amir Shaker, Barbara Van Rooyen confirmed that Erongo Region has a total of 900 Hepatitis E cases, four lives lost: two in Swakopmund, one in Walvis Bay and one in Omaruru and two of these cases were maternal deaths.
Dr Sagoe-Moses highlighted that a comprehensive, systematic and sustained community engagement plan is critical if this outbreak is to be curbed. “Messages on handwashing and other hygiene promotion activities at household and individual levels through community health volunteers and community leaders cannot be overemphasised to ensure behavioural change in hygiene practices”.
According to Sagoe-Moses, the WHO has committed close to N$3 million to support the Ministry of Health and Social Services intensify their response. As part of that support, approximately N$260 000 will be given to the Municipality of Swakopmund for an integrated com-munity-based response through community volunteers. These volunteers are expected to conduct community surveillance, contact tracing and hygiene promotion at household levels with emphasis on handwashing in the DRC settlement for at least six months. It is believed that the municipality will work very closely with the ministry’s district and regional health teams to support and supervise the volunteers.
“We hope that this support will enable the Swakopmund Municipality and the Ministry of Health and Social Services intensify their response to the Hepatitis E outreak and reduce the number of new cases in Swakopmund”, added Sagoe-Moses. He further said the Swakopmund community should not turn a blind-eye on this outbreak and thing it is only the DRC informal settlement which is affected, this virus will affect anyone in Swakopmund who does not practice safe hygiene. “We have people living in DRC, who are employed in our homes, restaurants, hotels and who baby-sit our children. We must not think this is a problem of DRC alone. We must always wash our hands .
Hepatitis E is a viral infection of the liver that is caused by Hepatitis E virus (HEV), it is characterised by yellow eyes, dark urine, vomiting and body weakness. The incubation period of Hepatitis E varies from 2-10 week, with most cases occurring 4-6 weeks after expo-sure and is transmitted through faecal-oral route, hence it’s likely to affect the population who lack access to proper sanitation facilities. Handwashing is crucial, with running water and soap.

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