Poor Hygiene Linked to High Hepatitis E Cases in Namibia

Windhoek – Namibia has reported a total of 6,517 cases of Hepatitis E since December 2017, with 55 fatalities attributed to the outbreak. Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Esther Muinjangue, highlighted poor hygiene practices as a significant contributor to the spread of this disease and many others both in Southern Africa and globally.

According to Namibian Press Agency (NAMPA), the District Health Information System 2, from October 2022 to October 2023, the Erongo Region alone reported 1,334 cases of diarrhoea with blood, resulting in four deaths. Additionally, the region reported 19,958 cases of diarrhoea without blood. Muinjangue noted this as an alarming situation, highlighting the urgent need for solutions in water, sanitation, and hygiene.

Muinjangue’s remarks were made during Namibia’s first commemoration of World Toilet Day, an initiative established by the World Toilet Organisation in 2002 and officially recognized by the United Nations in 2013. She emphasized the negative impact of open defecation, a practice engaged in by more than half of the Namibian population, on public health, especially affecting children and pregnant women.

The deputy minister expressed confidence in the Namibia Water and Sanitation Sector Programme and other development partners to provide adequate sanitation and hygiene for all and to end open defecation in Namibia by 2030.

Erongo Governor, Neville Andre-Itope, also emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts in providing sanitation and hygiene to all Namibians. He advocated for investment in infrastructure and sanitation facilities and continued advocacy for hygiene education to ensure universal access to safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation.