Nine­teen per­ish dur­ing fes­tive sea­son

Lesotho Times - - News - Mot­samai Mokotjo

HEALTH Min­is­ter ’Molotsi Monya­mane says al­co­hol played a ma­jor role in the fa­tal­i­ties and in­juries that oc­curred dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son.

Dr Monya­mane made the re­marks yes­ter­day in Maseru dur­ing a me­dia briefing to an­nounce the sta­tis­tics on fes­tive sea­son in­juries and fa­tal­i­ties. The briefing was also meant to ad­vise the pub­lic on health risks as­so­ci­ated with the cur­rent heat wave.

He said 19 deaths were recorded across the coun­try’s hospi­tals, with 466 stab wounds, 63 gun­shot vic­tims and 88 cases of rape. There were also 1 133 cases of “other as­saults” and 217 road traf­fic ac­ci­dents.

The min­is­ter said Queen ‘ Mamo­hato Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal in Maseru bore the brunt of the car­nage, with 13 fa­tal­i­ties, 23 gun­shot vic­tims, 122 stab wound cases and 50 vic­tims of road traf­fic ac­ci­dents recorded at the re­fer­ral hos­pi­tal pop­u­larly known as Tse­pong.

Mafeteng fol­lowed suit with 15 recorded gun­shot vic­tims, 70 stab wounds and 20 cases of rape among oth­ers.

Dr Monya­mane at­trib­uted the spike in in­juries and fa­tal­i­ties to the abuse of al­co­hol dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son.

“Most of the as­saults and deaths dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son were largely due to al­co­hol abuse, es­pe­cially road traf­fic ac­ci­dents. Al­co­hol abuse played a ma­jor role in in­ci­dents of shoot­ing and stab­bing in the coun­try,” he said.

Dr Monya­mane said the min­istry had put in place strate­gies to stem the car­nage which in­clude health education cam­paigns to pre­vent and man­age in­juries.

“As part of ef­forts to mit­i­gate the high in­ci­dents of in­juries and fa­tal­i­ties, we in­tend to give the min­istry’s driv­ers first aid lessons in or­der to help vic­tims,” he said.

The min­is­ter said they would strengthen district emer­gency pre­pared­ness teams by in­clud­ing the po­lice and iden­tify key groups vul­ner­a­ble to in­juries such as taxi oper­a­tors for first aid train­ing.

“We are also go­ing to en­sure the avail­abil­ity of emer­gency kits in all forms of pub­lic trans­port as well as knowl­edge of its proper use,” he said.

Dr Monya­mane also im­plored Ba­sotho to be­come aware of the health ef­fects of the cur­rent heat wave which is a re­sult of cli­mate change and the global weather phe­nom­e­non El Niño.

Un­der El Niño, wa­ters of the east­ern trop­i­cal Pa­cific warm re­sult­ing in dra­matic changes to the at­mos­phere and al­ter­ing weather pat­terns world­wide. Parts of South Amer­ica ex­pe­ri­ence heavy rain­fall, while drought-like con­di­tions pre­vail in Aus­tralia, south-east Asia and south­ern Africa.

Among the health chal­lenges Ba­sotho need to be aware of, he said, were heat ex­haus­tion and heat­stroke.

The min­is­ter noted that heat stress could cause sig­nif­i­cant med­i­cal is­sues when the body is un­able to cool it­self and main­tain a healthy tem­per­a­ture.

“Nor­mally, the body cools it­self by sweat- ing, but some­times sweat­ing isn’t enough and the body tem­per­a­ture keeps on ris­ing,” he said.

“Heat-re­lated ill­nesses can range from mild con­di­tions such as rash or cramps to very se­ri­ous ail­ments such as heat stroke which can kill.

“Over ex­er­tion in hot weather, poorly ven­ti­lated or con­fined ar­eas can in­crease the risk of heat stress. Heat can also make an ex­ist­ing med­i­cal con­di­tion worse, for ex­am­ple heart dis­ease.”

Peo­ple with heart dis­ease, high blood pres­sure, lung dis­eases and on med­i­ca­tion for men­tal ill­ness were also likely to suf­fer from heat re­lated ill­nesses.

Dr Monya­mane said while ev­ery­one was vul­ner­a­ble to heat-re­lated ill­nesses, they were more preva­lent among peo­ple over 65 years of age, ba­bies and young chil­dren as well as preg­nant and nurs­ing moth­ers.

To stem the ef­fects of heat stress, he said peo­ple should drink more clean wa­ter re­gard­less of their level of ac­tiv­ity.

Dr Monya­mane said peo­ple should not wait un­til they were thirsty to drink wa­ter or other cool, non-al­co­holic flu­ids to en­sure they are al­ways hy­drated.

“Avoid al­co­holic bev­er­ages or drinks that con­tain a lot of sugar. Also don’t have ex­tremely cold liq­uids, as they may cause stom­ach cramps,” Dr Monya­mane said.

“Peo­ple must avoid ex­po­sure to heat by stay­ing out of the sun as much as pos­si­ble. If they have to be out­doors, they must re­mem­ber to pro­tect them­selves from the sun by cov­er­ing ex­posed skin with light­weight clothes, us­ing sun­screen and wear­ing a hat and sun­glasses.”

He added: “They must also limit phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity be­cause too much ex­er­tion on a hot day can lead to heat stress. If you can, re­strict ac­tiv­ity to cooler times of the day.”

He added that recog­nis­ing the signs and symp­toms of heat-re­lated emer­gen­cies could pre­vent a tragic out­come. The symp­toms in­clude ex­tremely high body tem­per­a­tures; hot dry skin; rapid, strong pulse; throb­bing headache; dizzi­ness; nau­sea; con­fu­sion and un­con­scious­ness.

Min­is­ter of Health ‘Molotsi Monya­mane.

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