Guinea Worm Disease case search and risk assessment in Ohangwena and Omusati region - Namibia, February-March 2019

  • Other
  • Vector-borne
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Dracunculiasis commonly known as Guinea-Worm Disease (GWD) is a crippling parasitic disease caused by Dracunculus medinensis-a long, thread-like worm. GWD is a neglected tropical disease targeted for eradication. Namibia has never been known to be endemic of GWD and was certified GWD free in February 2000. However, the recent confirmation of cases in Southern Angola which borders Namibia, calls for heightened disease surveillance. The Ministry of Health together with WHO conducted active case search in the two regions bordering Angola. We investigated to assess risk factors for GWD transmission, explore opportunities to strengthen GWD surveillance and determine whether there is GWD.

A descriptive study was conducted in 89 villages and 875 households bordering Angola using convenience sampling. We conducted data review in health facilities and assessed knowledge of GWD in the communities by showing GWD photo-cards and administered questionnaires to households. Data were analysed using Excel.

Out of 875 respondents, 5 (0.6%) recognized GWD on the photo-cards who claimed to have seen it in Angola. A suspected-case investigated during the study was ruled out and determined to be a body tissue. About 402 (45%) respondents had access to safe drinking water, 183 (21%) use unsafe water-sources and 297 (34%) use both sources. About 59 (66%) villages are linked to cross-border movement between Angola and Namibia.

No active GWD case was found. Cross-border movement from and to Angola, and lack of safe water-sources in some villages were identified as risk factors for GWD. We oriented communities and health-workers on GWD. We recommended strengthening Post-Certification Surveillance activities as per WHO’s Global strategy of GWD eradication. The GWD to be included in the national IDSR reporting system and advocacy for safe-water supply for all at-risk villages.

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