GHS to tackle meningitis scourge
The Ghana Health Service (GHS) says it has deployed trained Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) at the regional and district levels of various health facilities as well as communities to undertake meningitis case search and support case management.
It added that it had also provided 7,500 antibiotics (Vials of Ceftriaxone; the appropriate antibiotic for the management of meningitis) and funds to support their response.
The Upper West Region started reporting cases in February, this year, and has seen an increase in cases in recent times, especially in the past two weeks.
“As of April 15, 2020, a total of 258 cases have been reported in the Upper West out of the 409 cases reported in the five Northern regions, resulting in 40 deaths (case fatality of about 15 per cent),” the GHS said in a statement.
Signed by the Director General of the GHS, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the statement said: “Regional and District Public Health Emergency Management Committees (PHEMC) have been activated to meet weekly to coordinate investigation and response activities.
“Intensive public education has started and is ongoing with respect to the signs and symptoms of meningitis and the need to report early to a health facility. Meetings have been held with the chiefs and other opinion leaders to solicit for their support in the sensitisation of their respective communities,” the statement said.
The GHS assured the people of the Upper West Region that it was committed to bringing the outbreak under control.
It noted that though there was no vaccine for the strain causing this current outbreak, effective treatment was available.
“The need to emphasise this is paramount to ensure early reporting and initiation of treatment that can significantly improve outcome and improve survival rate,” it noted.
The GHS explained that investigations had indicated that the high case fatality was due to late reporting.
It, therefore, advised residents of the affected areas to report early to the nearest health facility so the appropriate treatment could be administered to improve survival rate.
In addition, it said a team of experts, led by the head of Disease Control, had been deployed to the Upper West Region to provide technical assistance and support the region to intensify response.
Meningitis is an acute febrile illness, involving the covering of the brain and spinal cord (meninges). It is characterised by fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, stiffness of the neck, altered consciousness, convulsion/seizures and coma.
The illness is particularly endemic in the northern parts of the country, where there is usually an annual surge of cases during the dry season.
The current outbreak in the Upper West Region is caused mainly by a new strain of bacteria - Neisseria meningitides serotype X - which has no vaccine, and Streptococcus pneumoniae which has an average case fatality of 40 per cent.