Double trouble for Namibia, Zimbabwe

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…as Hepatitis and Malaria outbreaks add to Coronavirus misery

…health systems in both countries struggling to cope 

Tiri Masawi

WINDHOEK–Zimbabwe and Namibia’s health systems are stretched to the limit following a spike in hepatitis E and malaria infections respectively. The two southern African nations are also battling to contain the Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Zimbabwe had recorded 56 COVID-19 infections and four deaths by Sunday 24 May 2020 while Namibia had recorded 21 infections and no deaths.

In addition to the COVID-19 scourge, Namibia has seen a spike in hepatitis infections with the death toll at 65. Zimbabwe says malaria cases now stand at 130 000 cases.

The health crisis has strained the two countries’ resources and the health facilities are struggling to cope.

Namibia’s Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula said, “the cumulative total of hepatitis cases currently stands at 7 587 of which 1 937 are laboratory confirmed while 4 410 are epi-linked and 1240 are still being treated as suspected cases”.

“We are seriously monitoring the situation on hepatitis as we also battle to control COVID-19.

“We believe we can kill two birds with one stone in that the same measures we are using for COVID-19 fight can also be used to fight Hepatitis E.”

Shangula said the Khomas and Erongo regions are hardest hit by the hepatitis outbreak.

Shangula added that the government is employing at a multi-faceted approach to contain the disease which has seen most informal settlements in the country at risk because of the unavailability of portable water as well as ablution facilities.

“We have so far made sure that there is sufficient water at all the informal settlements and we are supplementing these with bulk supplies daily.

“The projects in Windhoek informal settlements have been a success. Therefore, support with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNICEF and the Ministry of Agriculture, the targeting of informal settlements will be expanded to other regions.

Shangula said the efforts being made to improve access to sanitation will help combat both Hepatitis E and COVID-19.

 

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