OUTAPI - While measures are in place to control the spread of hepatitis E, research done by the University of Namibia (Unam) in collaboration with UK-based Cardiff University in Omusati Region have proven preventative information has not reached everyone in the community.
Presenting the outcome of the research, Unam academic Dr Rachel Freeman said there is a great need for ongoing health education as the majority of people lack understanding of the nature of hepatitis E.
Although some people are aware of the mode of transmission of the disease, the key aspect to wash hands after the use of the toilet is not really practised.
“Most of the participants put a lot of emphasis on hand washing before eating and after doing some work, whereas hand washing after the toilet is not commonly mentioned,” said Freeman. Another challenge picked up is the inaccessibility of potable water. Many communities continue to drink from an open water source.
The research conducted between September 16 and 25 last year sought to understand local community understanding and experiences of hepatitis E and the outbreak response in order to inform existing response activities and capital vital learning for future response efforts. Currently, in Omusati Region hepatitis E has spread over 98 villages, the Director of Health in Omusati Region Alfons Amoomo has informed. Amoomo explained that of the 98 confirmed cases recorded between January last year and February 6 this year, 63 percent of those infected had travelled from areas where there is a hepatitis E outbreak. The other 20 percent did not have a history of having travelled to the areas where there was an outbreak of hepatitis E. Amoomo however emphasised that the majority of confirmed cases fall within the age category of 20-39 years.
This, he said, is because the youth are mobile and are likely to consume contaminated food at barbecue outlets in their respective towns. Amoomo emphasised the need for communities to construct tippy-taps and pit latrines. He also called on the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to avail potable water for the masses that are still without water. Speaking at the same event, UK Professor Judith Hall appealed to Namibian business and good Samaritans to come to the aid of the poor to aid in setting up the much emphasised tippy-taps and pit latrines. In addition to Dr Freeman and Professor Hall, Dr Hermien Iita from the Unam northern campus at Oshakati also worked on the project.
2019-02-27 09:34:21 6 months ago