Namibia hit by malaria epidemic amid Covid-19

By Timo Shihepo

NAMIBIA has recorded 11 598 malaria cases including 32 deaths in the first quarter of this year dealing a double blow for a country that is already overwhelmed by spiking cases of the coronavirus.

In the same vein, the country is also dealing with more than 7 500 cases of hepatitis E cases bedevilling the informal settlements because of poor sanitation and unhygienic facilities.

This was revealed by the Minister of Health and Social Services Dr. Kalumbi Shangula adding that the country has upped its response mode to using modalities that should combat Covid-19, malaria and hepatitis E, with major focus on malaria.

“The increase in malaria cases is pretty normal as we are in the malaria season, however, we are working flat out to make sure that we put measures in place to deal with this. In the case of hepatitis, it is important to stress that the same measures we are using for Covid-19 are the same that would work for hepatitis,” he said.

Shangula also added that, “We are seriously monitoring the situation on hepatitis and malaria as we also, control Covid-19, the belief is that we can kill two birds with one stone. We have so far made sure that there is sufficient water in all the informal settlements and we are also supplementing with bulk supplies daily.”

The Health Minister also confirmed that to date Namibia has recorded 7 587 hepatitis cases of which 1 937 are laboratory-confirmed while 4 410 are epidemiologically-linked and 1 240 are still being treated as suspected cases.

The ravaging hepatitis E is currently affecting both the Khomas and Erongo regions.

“The Erongo region reported 49 hepatitis cases during the same period with 42 cases reported from Kuisebmund in Walvis Bay, while the DRC informal settlement in Swakopmund recorded two cases,” he said.

He also added, “As we had been responding we still have a multi-sectoral response committee in place and community-led total sanitation projects ongoing. The projects in Windhoek informal settlements has been a success, therefore the support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and line sector ministry targeting informal settlements will be expanded to the other three regions in addition to Khomas.”

According to Shangula, his ministry’s driving efforts to provide the much scarce portable water and ablution facilities, health education on hand washing and use of alcohol-based sanitisers had been intensified.