Alvine Kapitako Windhoek-The health ministry is rolling out potable water tanks to Windhoek’s informal settlements that are currently under the heavy siege of a hepatitis E outbreak. The water tanks were scheduled for distribution to the affected settlements before the end of this week to help contain the outbreak, which has so far infected nearly 300 people, hospitalized eight patients, and killed one person. The councillor of Moses Garoeb Constituency, Martin David, told New Era yesterday that people who are far from water points are expected to benefit from this initiative, which is in its pilot phase. This is a plan of the Ministry of Health and Social Services and its partners. It is expected to kick-start this week and at least five water tanks will be ferried to informal settlements in Windhoek. “The purpose is to contain the hepatitis E virus,” said David. The public relations officer in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Manga Libita, confirmed that water tanks would be provided in the informal settlements, but she could not divulge any further information. The outbreak of hepatitis E, which was detected in mid-December, was concentrated in the informal settlements of Havana, Goreangab, Hakahana, Greenwell Matongo, Ombili and the broader Katutura. The majority of the new patients are from the informal settlements of Havana and Goreangab. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the virus is shed in the stools of infected persons, and enters the human body through the intestine. It is transmitted mainly through contaminated drinking water. Usually, the infection is self-limiting and resolves within 2–6 weeks. As of January 15, the number of cases of hepatitis E now stands at 296, up from 237 on January 9 earlier this year. In total, eight patients have been admitted to hospital with hepatitis E. David explained that people living in informal settlements are exposed to poor hygiene, partly because of a lack of ablution facilities and clean water. “Some people even take drinking water from cisterns as long as it is water,” explained David. Community leaders are hard at work encouraging people to maintain cleanliness in their environment, he added. But with a lack of proper toilets and bathrooms, it is not uncommon to see dirty running water in informal settlements. David added that some people are heeding the advice of community leaders but others don’t seem to be paying attention. Meanwhile, David with the help of community members built three public toilets using his own resources and that of community members. The toilets are in Havana and Hakahana. Many residents in these areas use pit latrines to relieve themselves. “I decided to construct toilets for the people in order to meet the government halfway,” said David. The Windhoek City Council is doing its part but there are still households that have to use riverbeds as toilets, David said. The constructed toilets would be used by at least seven households, he elaborated. “If there were more resources we would have built more toilets,” added David. Community members contributed by digging holes and buying some of the needed materials to build the toilets, explained David. Yesterday, New Era visited the Nalitungwe informal settlement in Hakahana where one of the toilets was built by the councillor with assistance from the community. “We will try to collect money amongst ourselves and construct more toilets on our own instead of waiting for the government,” said Lasarus Ambuga, a resident of Nalitungwe in Hakahana.
2018-01-24 08:58:28 8 months ago