Diarrhoea Hits Windhoek

AT least 300 children under the age of five and more than 270 adults have visited the Okuryangava Clinic over the past month suffering from diarrhoea.

A nurse at the clinic, Rotar Shimooshili, who was addressing a community gathering at the Tobias Hainyeko constituency over the weekend, said although no deaths were reported, the number was the highest they have recorded in a while.

“Although it is too early to release this month’s statistics, people are still turning up at the clinic with complaints of diarrhoea,” he said, adding that the symptoms were more common among children than adults.

He said the clinic was still trying to establish the cause, although he suspects it could be a result of the unhygienic living conditions in the settlements.

Shimooshili said most of the cases were from Okuryangava, Babylon and Okahandja Park where children often play in the dust.

A visit by The Namibian yesterday to some of the settlements confirmed that many babies are suffering from symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting.

A 22-year-old mother from Babylon, Susana Dogari, said her 11-month-old baby daughter has been having diarrhoea since last month.

“I took her to the Okuryangava Clinic yesterday and the nurses did not know what the problem was,” she said.

Dogari explained that her neighbour’s one-year-old son has also been showing the same symptoms.

Another mother, 28-year-old Joyce Shimafo, an Okahandja Park resident, who took her toddler to the clinic yesterday, said her one-year-old boy recently started throwing up and having diarrohea.

Shimafo also said her son was only prescribed medication while the cause of the symptoms has not been established.

“Two of my friends also brought their babies to the clinic with the same symptoms on Monday,” Shimafo added.

Another mother, who did not provide her name, narrated how her four-year-old son had a bout of diarrhoea last week, but is currently recovering.

Shimooshili described the situation as worrying but preventable. “Parents should not allow their children to play in the sand as is the case in many households,” he said.

Shimooshili urged residents to wash their hands frequently with soap.

“Personal and environmental hygiene is important. Some of these diseases are preventable with a little practice of hygiene,” he told residents.

A 2013 report by Unicef revealed that globally, an estimated 2 000 children under the age of five die every day from diarrhoeal diseases and of these some 1 800 deaths are linked to water, sanitation and hygiene.

Unicef also highlighted that child deaths every year are attributable to six causes: diarrhoea, malaria, neonatal infection, malnutrition and the lack of safe water and sanitation contribute to half of all these children’s deaths.

The Okuryangava Clinic, which caters for more than 35 000 people, has 18 nurses and two doctors and is currently the only clinic in the Tobias Hainyeko constituency.

Questions sent to the Ministry of Health and Social Services’ spokesperson Ester Paulus were not answered yesterday.

Source : The Namibian