WINDHOEK –The Namibia Red Cross Society (NRCS) in partnership with the Chinese embassy in Namibia held an information awareness fair focusing on Hepatitis E.
The event, which was held at the Havana Primary school on Friday, was themed “Advocating for improved health and hygiene behavioural change”.
The awareness event was prompted by the increase in Hepatitis E cases that are now at 3835. The affected regions are Omusati, Erongo, the two Kavango regions and Khomas.
Those who exhibited at the fair include hygiene specialists, who educated the Havana community on Hepatitis E prevention strategies, as well as general good hygiene practices.
Bernadette Bock, the NRCS’ secretary-general said that community-led total sanitation “is the answer to all the sanitation challenges that the country faces”.
Community-led total sanitation is a methodology for mobilising communities to completely eliminate open defecation. Communities are facilitated to conduct their own appraisal and analysis of open defecation, and to take their own action to become open defecation free.
At the heart of the community-led total sanitation lies the recognition that merely providing toilets does not guarantee their use, nor results in improved sanitation and hygiene.
“The time has come for all of us to join hands with the government, private sector and non-governmental organisations in tackling issues that threaten our existence and development. Let us all assist in ensuring that the communities – be it in peri-urban or rural areas, have basic sanitation facilities that dignify them”, said Bock. It was unexpected that nearly a year since Hepatitis E was first detected in Windhoek, there would be challenges in eradicating it, or at least brining it under control, remarked Bock.
“We want to extend our call to the Namibian nation to ensure that we all work together in fighting Hepatitis E and other diseases resulting from poor hygiene practices,” said Bock.
The NRCS has about 70 trained volunteers in Hepatitis E prevention, as well as Hygiene Promotion. “These men and women are on a daily basis going from door to door educating communities on how they can protect themselves from contracting the disease, as well as other communicable diseases”, commented Bock. She further stressed the importance of upholding good hygiene practices at all times.
“We all know that the source of this emergency is the unhygienic lifestyles observed throughout the country, especially in the informal settlements. The Namibia Red Cross Society believes that this situation will only improve through the change of the mindset of our people observing good and acceptable hygiene practices”, remarked Bock. She also cautioned that “The rainy season is approaching, and this situation can easily get out of hand if we are not taking proper precautionary measures.”