The recent outbreaks of diarrhea in several areas, including the Mahalapye, Kgatleng, Kweneng districts, Gaborone and Ramotswa have claimed the lives of more than 67 children under the age of five.
The Acting Director of Public Health, Setshwano Mokgweetsinyana, said the disease is being monitored and contained by health management teams. Mokgweetsinyana said they face a challenge in testing water sources for cause of the disease. He added that another challenge is the use of untreated water by some rural communities, saying that the most affected district was Kgatleng.
Furthermore, South East health district experienced an increase in cases of diarrhea, which were above the usual levels.
“Most of the diarrheal cases are presenting with frequent watery stools, dehydration and loss of appetite and a few cases are presenting with mild fever and vomiting,” said Mokwgeetsinyana.
Mokgweetsinyana stated that in week 34 of the outbreak, the number of reported diarrheal cases further increased to 1542 cases and 16 deaths. He said the number of affected districts increased from 10 to 18.
In week 35, he said, the number of new diarrheal cases reported was 1473 with 17 deaths.
According to Mokgweetsinyana, in week 36, the total number of new diarrheal cases was 1053 with 18 deaths bringing the cumulative number of deaths since the epidemic to 67 since the beginning of August.
He said when the Ministry of Health detected the epidemic, they immediately put major strategies to combat the epidemic by strengthening of the surveillance system, Infection Control, Advocacy, IEC, improved case management and referral systems and increased supportive supervision.
He said the epidemic preparedness and response at national and District Task Force and Technical Working Group for Diarrheal Disease Outbreak are in place and working in a team.
“Our difficulty is to assess and test whether public water supplies could be contaminated with Rota virus,” said Mokgweetsinyana.
He added that Mahalapye had reported double reporting of a death from two facilities reducing the deaths on week 34 to 16 instead of 17.
Mokgweetsinyana added that prevention of diarrheal disease in Botswana will intensify with the provision of health education, information, education and communication to the public regarding the prevention of diarrheal diseases.
He said that they continue to strengthen the diarrheal disease surveillance system but discouraged the use of untreated water by some rural communities.