Meningitis claims 50 lives

Fifty people have so far died from the outbreak of pneumococcal meningitis, the Minister of Health, Mr Alex Segbefia, has said.

Giving an update on the outbreak of the disease to the Health Committee of Parliament in Accra yesterday, Mr Segbefia said so far 246 cases had been reported in the Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, Upper West, and Upper East regions.

The minister assured the committee that he would appear before Parliament next week Thursday to present a comprehensive report on the disease.

Meanwhile, two more persons – one each in the Upper West and the Eastern regions – have been killed by pneumococcal meningitis.

In the Eastern Region, the disease claimed the life of a 16-year-old boy at the St Dominic Hospital at Akwatia last Friday, while in the Upper West Region, a man died in the Jirapa District last two weeks.

With the two people killed by the disease in the Eastern and Upper West regions, the death toll now stands at about 50 nationwide.

So far the pneumococcal meningitis and other strains of meningitis have been reported in Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, Northern and Volta regions.

In view of the increasing rate of death, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has stepped in to help local health authorities to contain the outbreak.

In Koforidua, the Deputy Director in charge of Clinical Care at the Eastern Regional Health Directorate, Dr Emmanuel Amoah, who confirmed the death to the Daily Graphic, said the post-mortem report of the late teenager confirmed that he died from pneumococcal meningitis.

He said hospitals in the region had been adequately prepared to handle the disease which now threatened the health of many Ghanaians.

Advice
Dr Amoah advised people to avoid overcrowding, and limit their exposure to infected persons.

‘Ironically, people who suffer from the disease may not even be aware,’ he stated.

A general feeling of unwell, fever, neck pain and neck stiffness, which are symptoms of the disease should prompt people to visit health facilities promptly.

“The disease attacks suddenly, and progresses rapidly so people must report to health facilities as soon as they begin to feel unwell,” he stated.

Dr Amoah advised regular hand washing with soap and the use of handkerchiefs to cover the mouth while coughing as some of the measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

From Wa, Michael Quaye reports that one person died of meningitis in the Jirapa District in the Upper West Region last two weeks.

So far 13 cases of different strains of meningitis have been reported in the region, but health officials have said the situation has not reached alert or epidemic levels.

Two cases of meningitis out of 13 suspected cases have been recorded in the Wa municipality, with no fatalities recorded.

The Health Director for Jirapa District, Ms Phoebe Bala, said kinds of meningitis had been recorded in the district, but the trend had not reached an alarming state yet.

Emergency committee
She said the health directorate had set up a committee, chaired by the Jirapa District Chief Executive, to monitor and encourage society members to promptly report any symptoms of ill health, while the local government hospital had positioned itself with staff and materials to enable it to handle such cases.

She said in the only fatal case recorded so far, the victim reported to the health facility rather late when the condition had become critical.

The Deputy Regional Director of Health, Mr Owusu Ansah, said various kinds of meningitis had been recorded over the past years in the region, long before the streptococcus pneumoniae hit epidemic threshold in the Brong Ahafo Region.

But while vaccines exist for many types of meningitis, no such drug has been developed to contain the dangerous streptococcus pneumoniae.


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