Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman Manu
The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman Manu has said that the government is engaging with experts to tackle the outbreak of cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM) in the five regions of the north of Ghana.
The Minority Chief Whip and Member of Parliament for Asawasi constituency, Muntaka Mubarak condemned the Health Ministry for the less attention given to CSM which has claimed more lives than COVID-19.
Speaking on the floor of parliament, Mr. Agyeman Manu said fighting CSM is the government’s priority as public education has been intensified in the affected areas.
“We are working on how to stop the CSM and we are chasing the bacterial like how we are chasing COVID-19. We are doing education, sensitization, community engagement and all that can be done. We are even doing social distancing with the CSM. We are doing education, we are doing sensitization, we are doing community engagements all that can be done. The social distancing that we are talking about for COVID, we are still talking about social distancing for meningitis and there are teams that are going around trying to educate and sensitize such that people won’t get closer to each other,” he said.
So far, over 40 deaths have been recorded out of a total of 409 cases reported in the 5 regions of the north, 258 cases have been reported in Upper West alone.
Meanwhile, the Ghana Health Service said it has also 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.
The Director-General of the GHS, Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, in a 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 sensitization of their respective communities.”
The GHS said although there is no vaccine yet to cure the illness, early reporting of the illness to a health facility raises survival chances.
Meningitis is an acute febrile illness, involving the covering of the brain and spinal cord (meninges). The symptoms include; fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, stiffness of the neck, altered consciousness, convulsion/seizures, and coma.
The illness is particularly prevalent in the northern parts of the country, where there is usually an annual increase in 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 percent.