Doctor calls for urgent action as virus hits babies in Ngamiland
A deadly outbreak of diarrhoea two weeks ago has claimed the lives of 17 children under the age of two in Ngamiland.
Six of the babies died either at home or in transit to the hospital while 11 died in hospital care. 120 more cases have been reported to Letsholathebe hospital in Maun. A hospital specialist has called for parents to take urgent action as fears of further deaths grow.
The pandemic described as treatable but deadly in children has forced the Ministry of Education to order an immediate close down of all pre-schools in the region in a fight against the spread of the rotavirus, which is the most common cause of severe diarrhoea among infants and young children.
District Health Management Team (DHMT) hospital specialist, Dr Christopher Chembe has said that the rotavirus, has been established in stool analysis of patients.
Dr Chembe further explained that the virus can be transferred by faeces to mouth infection.
Adults with poor toilet hygiene can also pass the infection to babies because they (adults) are immune to the disease.
Although he could not rule out the possibility of the outbreak being caused by people drinking contaminated river water following a long spell of water shortage in Maun, Dr Chembe said: “ The rotavirus is common in winter when people are too cold to wash their hands after using the toilet. It can be deadly if there is a delay in seeking medication.”
In response an emergency room for babies affected by the virus has been established at Letsholathebe Hospital to avoid any delays.
“Parents should not waste time before taking their children to the hospital because some of the babies who lost their lives at the hospital arrived there in a state where they couldn’t be saved,” he said.
The doctor warned that as soon as symptoms, which include vomiting and abdominal pains are identified medical attention should be sought right away.
“We also want to plead with traditional healers to refer all their patients who show signs of diarrhoea to the hospital immediately instead of attempting to treat them,” he said.
Worldwide more than 450,000 children under five years of age still die from rotavirus infection each year, most of whom live in developing countries.
FATHER OF TWINS BLAMES HOSPITAL AS BABIES DIE IN DIARRHOEA ATTACK
Amongst the distraught parents who have lost children to the outbreak, 60-year-old Motho Mogalakwe who is mourning the death of his twin babies last week, blamed hospital staff for not moving fast enough to save the children’s lives.
“If they could have put the kids in intensive care or at least in hospital for observation instead of treating them and sending them back home my babies would probably be alive today.”
He said that the twins lost their lives a week after showing signs of the disease.
“The first passed away on Wednesday morning and the other one followed on Thursday morning, but the doctors did nothing to save the one who died last,” claimed the grieving dad.