Cholera Outbreak In Accra…But Hospitals Not Ready For Patients

The red flags for imminent cholera outbreak started flying high about two months ago when waste and refuse engulfed the nation’s capital, Accra, but officials in the metropolis looked on unconcerned and now the ripple effect of that indifference is the outbreak of cholera in the city widely touted as Millennium City by its Mayor, Alfred OkoVanderpuye.

The outbreak has so far resulted in the unfortunate death of about a dozen persons.

What is more worrisome is the fact that almost all the Hospitals in the capital are not ‘battle-ready’ to treat the cholera patients because of lack of beds. Patients who are fortunate to be admitted are discharged before they are due in order to make way for other victims.

The La General Hospital was last week forced to convert its Out Patient Department (OPD) into a Cholera Unit as high number of cases of the illness overwhelmed the hospital. The Ga West Municipal Hospital at Amasaman in the Greater Accra which last week recorded 14 cases of suspected Cholera on daily basis was compelled to treat patients in an uncompleted building since a six bed make-shift structure provided for the treatment of cholera was full.

The Korle Bu Polyclinic serves Agbogbloshie, Chorkor, Jamestown and its surrounding areas, is also struggling with the number of patients who report to the facility daily for treatment of cholera. The health facility does not have a cholera unit and also lacks enough personnel to deal with the many cases being recorded daily.

The irony of the matter is that, only last week, The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) warned of a possible cholera outbreak in Accra due to the insanitary conditions in Accra but assured residents that all health facilities in the region had activated their epidemic management committees to handle the epidemic on the ground.

A statement signed by the Public Relations Officer of the Assembly further disclosed that it had equipped health facilities in the Accra Metropolis to treat all suspected cases of cholera.

‘Identified cases will be followed up to the communities by Disease Control Officers, Environmental Health Officers and Community Health Nurses to provide the necessary services at the community levels,’ the statement issued in June added.

Indeed the Greater Accra Regional Health Directorate of the Ghana Health Service said waste disposal in the capital was a major challenge following the shutdown of the Accra Compost Plant hence the warning.

Cholera is an acute diarrhoea illness caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholerae that can result in a profound and rapidly progressive dehydration and death.

Ingestion of water and food contaminated by infected human feces is the common means of acquiring the disease.

The main symptoms are profuse painless watery diarrhoea without fever and often with vomiting of clear fluid.

These symptoms usually start suddenly, one to five days after ingestion of the bacteria.

If the severe diarrhoea and vomiting are not aggressively treated it can, within hours, result in life-threatening dehydration.

Reports of cholera outbreak got scarier last week when he Public Health Directorate of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) warned that the outbreak was gradually reaching an epidemic status after over 500 cases of cholera had so far been recorded in Accra alone.

The Assembly has been widely accused of supervising indiscriminate waste disposal in the capital which has resulted in the outbreak of the disease but the Director of Public Health at the AMA, Dr. Simpson Boateng says with an eminent epidemic at hand, there was no need for people to apportion blame as the Assembly was doing its possible best to keep the city clean.

He said: ‘We are heading towards an epidemic and that is why there is the need for us to rather focus on preventing the spread.’

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