Paradigm shift needed to accelerate hygiene in informal settlements: University of Namibia
WINDHOEK, 20 OCT – The City of Windhoek (CoW) is busy working with the University of Namibia (UNAM) to deploy health and criminal anthropologists to study the behaviour of communities of the Havana and Goreangab informal settlements here.
This, according to CoW Health Inspector, Lion Tjerije Kahimise is the CoW’s efforts to study the behaviour of residents for the development of a paradigm shift strategy, particularly in the area of health.
Kahimise revealed this on Thursday in an interview with Nampa on the margins of the occasion of the health and hygiene promotion month in Goreangab Extension 3.
“The anthropologists will come soon and stay in these informal settlements for them to be able to conduct the investigations properly,” he said.
The health inspector noted that although awareness on hygiene and health has proven to yield positive results, the challenge of resourcing informal settlements will remain until the formalisation of such settlements.
“This challenge is compounded by the culture of the residents not to want to use toilets used by others,” Kahimise said.
Poor hygiene, according to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Country Representative, Rachel Odede has over the last year resulted in the loss of 31 lives due to Hepatitis E.
In a speech delivered on her behalf at the health promotion event, Odede noted that more than 1.2 million people in Namibia practice open defecation and nearly one in four children under the age of five is stunted.
These figures were extracted from the Namibia Demographic and Health Survey of 2013.
“Since September 2017, over 3 474 suspected cases of Hepatitis E have been attended to at various health facilities across Namibia, with 31 reported deaths, Odede informed the gathering.
The UNICEF representative expressed concern about the Khomas Region where 2 464 cases of Hepatitis E were reported from mainly the Havana and Goreangab informal settlements and 24 lives lost.
She further said the World Health Organisation estimates that 50 per cent of malnutrition cases including stunting can be associated with repeated diarrhoea as a result of unsafe or lack of good hygiene practices.
“In order for us to further safe lives and reduce illness, we need to promote hygienic practices at home, schools and communities by adopting hygienic strategies,” Odede urged.
One major strategy advocated is making the washing of hands with soap a habit in every home, school, community and workplace.