ONGWEDIVA – Hepatitis E cases have spiked dramatically over the last couple of years, with health officials declaring 1 635 confirmed cases as at 10 November this year. The outbreak has claimed 56 lives, while a significant 6 672 cases have been reported since the outbreak started in December 2017. Of the 1 635 confirmed cases, Erongo Region is leading with 460 cases, while Khomas and Omusati have 351 and 169 cases, respectively. Khomas, however, has the highest reported cases with 4 179, followed by Erongo and Omusati with 1 525 and 269, respectively.
The Kunene and //Kharas regions have recorded the least cases of 16 and 11, respectively. Of these reported cases, 1 635 were laboratory confirmed, 4 236 were epidemiologically linked, while 901 were suspected cases.
An epidemiologically linked case is one in which the patient has had contact with one or more persons who have/had the disease. The latest statistics were presented at the ongoing Namibia-Angola cross border meeting at Ongwediva, where the two countries are looking at solutions to jointly tackle diseases. The weeklong meeting, which commenced on Monday, seeks to strengthen collaboration for guinea worm disease, Hepatitis E virus, and other communicable diseases. Director of health information Philomena Ochurus said Hepatitis E has claimed 56 lives since the disease was declared an outbreak in December 2017. At least 24 of the deaths recorded, which constitute 42 percent, are maternal. The majority of these cases are reported amongst males.
The meeting also expressed concern over the spread of Hepatitis A, especially in Omusati. The region continues to report an increase number of Hepatitis A cases, which to date stands at 148. Other regions, except the two Kavango regions, reported 67 sporadic cases since 2018 to date. Between June and July this year, 2 242 Hepatitis A cases were recorded – of which Khomas recorded the highest of 467, followed by Oshikoto (362), Oshana (343), Omusati (329), and Kunene with the lowest number of 13. Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection transmitted through the ingestion of contaminated food and water.
Although there have been remarkable strides made to control the further spread of Hepatitis A, the outbreak has become protracted and continues to spread to other regions. Among other challenges being observed is inadequate wash interventions in some informal settlements, characterised by insufficient water and sanitation facilities.
Others are risky behavioural practices and vandalism of infrastructure aimed at curbing the Hepatitis E virus.