WINDHOEK - The Governor of the Khomas region, Laura McLeod-Katjirua, says the hepatitis E outbreak, which has now spread to 12 of the country’s 14 regions, is not a Windhoek issue.
“Namibians say it was a Windhoek issue. It never was by invitation,” said McLeod-Katjirua, adding that the disease could have started anywhere else in the country.
The Ministry of Health and Social Services declared hepatitis E an outbreak on 14 December 2017 and the disease has since spread to other regions except for the Zambezi and //Kharas regions.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health and Social Services show that as of 27 January 2019, a total 4 432 hepatitis E cases had been reported in Namibia.
So far, 40 deaths have been reported and the death toll is disproportionately highest among pregnant women and those who have given birth, constituting 17 cases, which translates to 42.5 percent of deaths.
The governor was bothered that the disease is yet to be contained and it is persisting to spread to other regions.
“The main issue is the attitude and behaviour and the question of ownership,” said the governor.
She said with the current status of informal settlements, not much can be done in terms of providing decent housing.
“But the little that we can provide is vandalised,” said the governor, who reiterated the message of vandalism that she has been speaking since the outbreak of the disease.
“Health education must be ongoing. There is political will to make sure that hepatitis E is dealt with,” said the governor.
On his part, the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Kalumbi Shangula, said there was a possibility Namibia could become an endemic country for hepatitis E “a sad and unwelcomed development”.
“What I find distressing is the fact that there is an air of indifference towards the outbreak among the public,” said Shangula.