Staff members from WHO AFRO’s Communicable Disease Cluster (CDS) undertook a viral hepatitis baseline assessment mission in support of Namibia Ministry of health from 12th to 16th February 2018.
The objectives of the mission were to assess the currently existing policies and practices on hepatitis control in order to facilitate the initiation and scale-up the viral hepatitis response in Namibia.
The team reviewed existing programmatic and strategic documents, interviewed different health sector stakeholders, visited sites including hospitals and analysed available data. The assessment showed that Namibia has a high prevalence of Hepatitis B. It highlighted some achievements including the well-established and implemented national policies to guide blood transfusion; infection control and the high level of hepatitis B vaccination (including birth dose); and the systematic screening of Hepatitis B in pregnant women and patients attending HIV treatment programs.
There is however no hepatitis policy to inform the coordination of hepatitis interventions, limited hepatitis advocacy and low knowledge of viral hepatitis. There is minimal treatment availability and paucity of surveillance indicators to monitor or evaluate the hepatitis response.
Recommendations made by the team include the need to:
- strengthen hepatitis governance and leadership
- promote advocacy and multisectoral collaboration
- strengthen laboratory activities for confirmation of viral hepatitis B and C and
- establish strategic linkages to strengthen hepatitis diagnosis and treatment and surveillance.