Hepatitis E on the increase in Khomas

By Confidente Reporter

THE Khomas region still tops the number of Hepatitis E cases being recorded in the country with 60 cases recorded last month, the Ministry of Health and Social Services has said.

The region is followed by Hardap with 19 cases, Erongo 17, Omusati, and Omaheke six while Oshana, Ohangwena and Kavango reported one case respectively.

The health ministry said last week that cases have been reported mainly from informal settlements such as Havana and Goreangab in Windhoek, DRC in Swakopmund and similar settings in other regions where access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene is limited. Most cases from less affected regions have a travel history to the above-mentioned informal settlements in Windhoek or Swakopmund.

“There was a steady increase in the number of reported cases during the last two weeks (Epidemiological week 23 & 24) compared to weeks 21 & 22. During this  reporting period, week ending June 16, a total of 113 Hepatitis E Virus cases were reported country- wide, compared to 56 cases reported during week 21 & 22 respectively. Majority of cases are reported from Khomas 60 (61 percent), Hardap 19 (16 percent), Erongo 17 (15 percent), Omusati eight (seven percent), Omaheke six ( five percent) while Oshana, Ohangwena and Kavango reported one (0.9 percent) case respectively.

Apart from the above eight outbreak affected regions, sporadic cases have also been reported during 2018-2019 (to date) as follow:

Khorixas district in Kunene region reported six confirmed asymptomatic cases

Luderitz in Karas region reported five sporadic confirmed cases while

All four districts in Otjozondjupa region reported 11 sporadic confirmed cases.

All the above cases have a history of travel to outbreak affected regions, especially Khomas and Erongo.

“Cumulatively, as of 16 June 2019, a total of 5423 HEV cases, including 1041 confirmed 3694 Epilinked, 688 Suspected/probable cases. Since the outbreak was confirmed, 745 specimens tested negative for Hepatitis E and were discarded. Khomas region remains the most affected region, accounting for 3529 (65%) of the confirmed cases, followed by Erongo 1267 (23 percent). The remaining regions account  for 627 (12 percent) of the reported cases. The national Case Fatality Rate (CFR) is 45 (0.9 percent). Of the 45 deaths, 20 (43 percent) are maternal deaths.”

The ministry also disclosed that males are more susceptible to deaths from Hepatitis E than females.

“Majority of cases are among those in the age-group 20-29 and 30-39 respectively and the lowest is children under 1 year whereas males are more affected than their female counterparts. Omusati region have reported an increased number of Hepatitis A cases during this year presumed to be an outbreak with a total of 37 cases to date, however all other regions except Kavango and Kunene have reported few sporadic cases since 2018 to date.”

The ministry of health also disclosed that the National Health Emergency Management Committee (NHEMC) and  the  response team continued to engage partners, particularly UNDP, City of Windhoek (CoW), Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology (MICT) to support awareness raising for individuals and collective responsibility including coordination in fighting HEV in the country.

UNICEF and partners have also expressed readiness to support the CoW and other municipalities to implement Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) tailor-made to suit the urban setting, without compromising the standards of cities. The National Costed Activity Plan has been finalized.