From left: Hamidu Adakurugu, Director of Legal Affairs, MoH, Dr Asiedu Bekoe, Dr Victor Asare Bampoe and Dr Sally- Ann Ohene, Disease Prevention and Control Officer, WHO, at the press briefing.
Cases of meningitis outbreak being recorded in some parts of the country are gradually increasing, with 36 deaths from 176 cases recorded so far in three regions.
The figures, based on retrospective and new cases, were recorded in the Brong Ahafo, Northern and the Ashanti Regions of the country.
In the Brong Ahafo Region, Brohani and Seikwa communities in the Tain District recorded 39 cases and 12 deaths, Wenchi District recorded 49 cases with 10 deaths, Techiman North District recorded 12 cases with two deaths and Techiman Municipality recorded 20 cases with six deaths.
Nkoranza South also recorded six cases with no deaths, Atebubu Municipality also recorded six cases and one death, Dormaa Municipality and Kintampo North both recorded four cases with no deaths, Sene West also recorded one case and one death in the same region.
Bole District in the Northern Region has also recorded 16 cases with four deaths, with the last reported cases being five days ago.
The Ashanti Region has also recorded seven sporadic cases in six districts, including Ejisu Juabeng, Offinso Municipal, Offinso North, Asante Akim Central and Adansi South.
Health officials at the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Ministry of Health (MoH), led by the Deputy Minister of Health Dr Victor Asare Bampoe, after a visit to the affected areas have confirmed the bacteria streptococcus pneumonia as the causative agent at a press briefing in Accra.
The new strain, pneumococcal meningitis, caused by streptococcus pneumonia, is different from the meningococcal meningitis caused by Group A Meningococcus, which was accounting for an estimated 80to 85 percent of all meningitis belt in the country.
Dr Bampoe said the new strain although deadly is not spreading as fast as the previous one.
He said the new strain has come about as a result of the mass preventive immunisation campaign in the three northern regions in 2012.
Dr Asiedu Bekoe, deputy director of Public Health and Head of Surveillance at the GHS, explaining the magnitude of the outbreak in the Brong Ahafo Region, mentioned that “this is due to the not too common incidence of the disease in the region, as a result a number of the cases were missed and treated as malaria particularly at the peripheral clinics.”
He further mentioned that the population in the region is less immune to the circulating pathogens unlike the northern regions and, thus, easily become affected.
For the Ashanti Region, he said the cases are not very different from the numbers recorded last year.
“Currently there is no outbreak of meningitis in the Ashanti Region,” he said, adding that the organisms isolated in the reported cases are actually Neisseria Meningitis Type C which is also different from pneumococcal meningitis.
Dr Bekoe said there have been seasonal reports of meningitis outbreaks normally during the dry periods of October to March.
He said during this season with relatively low humidity and abundance of dust, individuals become susceptible to meningitis infection.
He said the ministry has released the sum of GH ¢150,000 and 1,500 vials of medication to the affected areas to address the outbreak, adding that the disease is under control.
He said the GHS has sent a health alert to all district health facilities, provided laboratory agents, oriented the staff on the disease and health public education at health facilities and communities on meningitis as well as making vaccine for the meningococcal meningitis available.
Also, the government is receiving support from the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the provision of rapid diagnostic test kits to affected areas.
Increase in Cases
Dr Bekoe said with the level of sensitisation that has gone on, more cases are expected to be recorded at the various hospitals, adding that health personnel are equipped to deal with the increasing cases.
He also advised the public to avoid overcrowding, drink a lot of water, improve ventilation in homes and offices and report symptoms such as neck pains, neck stiffness, convulsion and headaches to the nearest health facility for free treatment.
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri