The Minister of Health and Social Services, Kalumbi Shangula, says half of Namibia's population still practices open defecation when nature calls.

Speaking at the Global Handwashing Day commemoration at Rundu, Dr Shangula said this makes hand washing even more important.

Although Namibia has made good progress in ensuring access to clean water, sanitation remains a challenge.

Dr Shangula commended UNICEF for its pilot project "Community Led Total Sanitation", which seeks to eradicate open defection in the Ohangewna, Kavango East and West as well as Zambezi Regions.

"Namibia has made strong progress in the water sector, where over 93% of the population now has access to improved water supply, and the challenge now lies with the lack of progress on sanitation. According to the National Demographic Health Survey of 2013, on average more than half of the Namibian population practices open defecation, and this is a sad story."

He believes if all development partners joined hands, open defecation could be eradicated by the year 2030.

Dr Shangula was concerned with the high number of diarrhoea-related diseases recorded at health facilities in the Kavango East Region.

Poor hygiene can trigger Hepatitis E.

UNICEF Deputy Country Representative Gregory von Medeazza emphasised the importance of hand washing.

"This year we are called to unite together to spread awareness about the value of clean hands. This is a valuable message and hand washing. Hand washing is such a simple practice that can make all the difference and save lives, as we have seen recently with hepatitis E and COVID. Yet research still shows that hand washing is not practised by all of us."

The Global Handwashing Day event was held at the Ndama Combined, which is one of the most populous schools in Rundu.

The day is aimed at creating awareness about hand hygiene and promoting improved hand-washing habits, especially with running water and soap.

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online desk


Elizabeth Mwengo