Ministry records 24 diarrhea-related deaths

The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recorded 24 deaths of children under the age of five since the outbreak of diarrhea.

Addressing the media in Gaborone on Thursday, permanent secretary in the ministry, Ms Ruth Maphorisa, said the country was experiencing an abnormally high increase of diarrhea cases since September 02.

She said a total of 21 544 cases had been recorded on September 2 - 30, rising from the 1776 cases recorded on the first week of the outbreak.

Ms Maphorisa said initially, there were only seven health districts affected out of the 27, and the number had now risen to 17.

She said the outbreak had forced the ministry to intensify monitoring measures to all the 27 health districts.

She said from September 2 to 8, they recorded 491 cases of diarrhea with dehydration, 85 diarrhea with blood and 1194 cases of diarrhea without dehydration, which led to five deaths.

Ms Maphorisa said  from 9-15 September, they recorded 1097 cases of diarrhea with dehydration, 61 with blood and 3461 diarrhea without dehydration resulting in six deaths.

The permanent secretary said from 16-22 September and 23-29, the figures rose sharply for diarrhea without dehydration to 5828 and 6800 respectively something she called an improvement as the most dangerous one was diarrhea with dehydration.

Ms Maphorisa said they projected three more weeks before the country could get out of the outbreak if things remain the same.

She, however, said it was not yet clear what caused the diarrhea and that tests were being conducted .

She said 180 samples were sent to South Africa for genotyping, 92 from surveillance and 88 from the outbreak through the World Health Organisation (WHO)  laboratory and 99 were Rotavirus positive while 81 were negative and had to be tested for other viruses.

Ms Maphorisa encouraged members of the public to stick to health practices such as washing hands with soap every time after using the toilet and boiling drinking water.

She also urged nursing mothers to always wash their hands before feeding their babies.

She also appealed to  stakeholders to continue providing support to the ministry as the government alone could not win this outbreak.

Ms Maphorisa applauded UNICEF for  giving the ministry 2000 by 100 sachets of ORS, 15 000 cannulas and 1000 Naso-gastric tubes, which were distributed to the hardest hit districts such as Okavango, Boteti and Gantsi. Ends

Source : BOPA

Author : AUBREY MASWABI

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