WINDHOEK, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- Hepatitis E case in Windhoek's informal sector have risen to 490, Namibia's health ministry said Thursday, while blaming poor sanitation for fueling the spread of diseases.
Health Minister Bernard Haufiku told a media conference that to date the outbreak has caused two maternal deaths, with majority of the cases coming from Havana and Goreangab settlements.
"The outbreak control and disease prevention activities are still ongoing, such as coordination, surveillance, case detection and management, wash and environmental health and social mobilization," he said.
Director of Health Information and Research Directorate Puumue Katjiunjo told Xinhua that currently health centers in the city get cases of suspected Hepatitis E on a daily basis.
"Currently we can not say it has been contained but efforts to reduce and contain the disease are being employed by the health ministry with the assistance of NGO agencies," he said.
The ministry encouraged the community in affected areas to continue with preventative measures including purifying drinking water and practicing healthy sanitary exercises.
Poor sanitation has been blamed for fueling disease outbreaks in Namibia, with the health ministry saying 68 percent households in the country's informal settlements still practise open defecation.
It also stated that 92 percent of households in the informal sector collect water from communal taps and 2 percent from unsafe water sources, compared with 6 percent that have household taps.
Katjiunjo said that 55 percent of water samples collected at point of use tested positive for total coliforms, an indication of faecal contamination.
A representative from Windhoek's City Authorities told Xinhua that currently the city is rehabilitating old toilets and cleaning up communities to assist in the prevention of further disease outbreaks.
Namibia experienced its first Hepatitis E outbreak in 1983 in Rundu, where 9 cases were confirmed, and the last outbreak was experienced in 1995-1996 also in Rundu.
United Nations Resident Coordinator to Namibia Kiki Gbeho on Thursday said the UN is ready to assist the Namibian government's response to the Hepatitis E outbreak.