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Meningitis Outbreak: B/A records more new cases

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The Brong Ahafo region has recorded an increase in new cases of the Meningitis diseases as a result of intensified public awareness by health officials, the Ghana Health Service have said at a press briefing in Accra on Monday.

The region so far has recorded 359 cases with 59 deaths making it the worst hit since the outbreak in December 2015.

Dr. Appiah Denkyirah, Director General of the GHS who announced this during a press briefing on the current situation said all other regions except for the Central region have recorded some cases of the Meningitis but the situation in the B/A currently remains the highest.

Dr Appiah Denkyira, D.G Ghana Health Service
Dr Appiah Denkyira, D.G Ghana Health Service (Image: Kobby Blay/Ghanahealthnest.com)

He explained that though the cases have increased, the rate of fatalities was going down as significant number of patients who are now reporting at the early stage of the disease recover fast and have been discharged.

“Some patients are now been treated with oral medications instead of the intravenous fluids which was the case initially”,he said.

Dr. Denkyirah described that health officials have not only intensified their public awareness by using varied social mobilization strategies including the radio stations, gong-gong beating, traditional and religious leaders, information centres (Public Address systems) to mobilize the communities for positive response but also enhanced  surveillance and sensitized health workers on the outbreak in the region.

Meningitis Outbreak: Scenes from worst hit communities

He added that, some teams of health workers go to the affected communities to trace and follow up contacts and manage them as appropriate. Dr Denkyirah hinted that the GHS has now streamlined its communication to minimize the confusion in the announcement of statistics with the current situation.

The following activities the Ghana Health Service says it has undertaken with some  currently ongoing.

  • Antibiotics (7,500 vials) have been distributed to all 10 regions, Brong-Ahafo Region received 2,250 vials.
  • Provision of additional funding to all 10 regions, but with emphasis on Brong-Ahafo and the three Northern regions.
  • Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research (NMIMR) is the lead institute conducting test for meningitis. They are being supported by Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR), all regional and district hospital laboratories.
  • Medical Research Council (MRC) Unit, a WHO Collaborating laboratory based in Gambia is in the country for 10 days to provide laboratory reagents and assist on-site training of staff and diagnosis.
  • A team from Centres for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) US, Atlanta are in Ghana. They will replace the PCR machine stationed in Tamale, provide additional laboratory reagents and assist in the training of laboratory and epidemiology health officials.
  • Health Advisory on Meningitis  distributed to all health workers through Regional Directors
  • Meningitis Q & A distributed to the media including social media
  • UNICEF and other Development partners  supporting the development and printing of posters and facts sheets
  • District Epidemic Management Committees and other stakeholders involved in on-going media campaign
  • Weekly National Technical Coordinating Committees meetings involving Ghana Education Service, World Health Organization, CDC and UNICEF
  • Weekly Conference call involving GHS, WHO-Ghana, WHO-AFRO, WHO-Geneva and CDC

Dr Appiah Denkyirah acknowledged the efforts and contributions of all health partners and officials and assured that the whole country is on high alert to report any suspected cases with the national health system working with development partners to control the situation.

Since the announcement of the outbreak of the Meningitis disease by the Ministry of Health in January 2016, a  total of 548 suspected meningitis cases including 93 deaths have been reported across the country  with a death rate of 16.9%.

MUST KNOW:
Suspected Meningitis: Any person who has

  • Fever or Headache AND any one of the following
  • Neck pains
  • Neck stiffness
  • Convulsions
  • Confusion
  • Bulging anterior fontanelle (for children under one year)
  • OR a sudden unexplained death

What the ordinary person should do:
1. Avoid overcrowing (particularly avoid infected persons sneezing, coughing)
2. Drink a lot of water
3. Improved ventilation (opening of windows in your rooms)
4. Report to the nearest health facility if you have fever, headache and neck pain —Treatment is free.

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