I have returned to this blog. What does this mean? It first of all signals the revitalization of my blog. It marks the end of my hiatus in writing about the public health issues that surround me, and the return to writing with renewed vigor.
So let me begin with the following announcement – the Namibian Ministry of Health with their usual partner in crime (saving lives has never been crime, this a joke), the CDC, has launched an epidemiology and laboratory management program for health workers. The Namibian Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi, inaugurated the new program that seeks to train health workers in the response to outbreaks. Citing the frequent occurrence of outbreaks in Namibia, referring the near annual epidemics of preventable diseases such as measles and most recently Typhoid fever, the Minister underscored the importance of epidemic response and management. The program consists of the a three month epidemiology of outbreaks course, which will include three weeks of classes followed by fieldwork and the two year long laboratory management program.
I can only applaud our government for taking this important step, which as our Minister rightly stated, will enable us to fulfill our obligation to the WHO in disease control. I think at this point, you may expect to say something like ‘I have always wanted to do disease control and here is my chance!’. Have I?
I have studied the theory of epidemics and I recall they mathematical Susceptible Infected Removed (SIR) models of epidemic. These did fascinate me to some extent, but I never applied them. In this course, I wonder how the understanding of epidemics on the ground and measures to be taken will relate to the theoretical models. Will we learn how to calculate parameters of an epidemic such as reproductive number R zero and use them?
There is undoubtably a need to tackle oubtreaks in Namibia. Two examples come to mind when thinking of the scourge of outbreaks: the polio outbreak of 2007 which claimed numerous lives of adults and measles epidemics that affect children in areas of low immunisation coverage on an annual basis. I would dare say that even the mobile clinics of the organisation I work for have come across cases of measles, but of course I cannot confirm this at the time of going to press.
So this is the reality we live on, one of a twin burden of epidemics of infectious disease and non-communicable diseases. In spite of my efforts to pique my interest in the former, whether it be through SIR models, volunteering during the polio campaign of 2007 and not least the creation of this blog post, I think I more interested in the latter.
Especially how HIV a disease we know to be infectious is now become a chronic and now with treatment for prevention a potentially non-communicable disease.