Ghana, on Thursday, received $60,000 worth of laboratory supplies for the testing of meningitis, from the United States-based Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The donation was made under the Lead, Ghana Second Year of life Project (2YL) of the CDC, which forms part of their initiatives in preventing disease spread.
Dr Mawuli K. Nyaku, the Head of the 2YL project, who made the presentation, to the Ghana Health Service (GHS), said the supplies would be used to test suspected cases of meningitis across the country, especially in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions.
He said, “The CDC has been procuring a lot of laboratory supplies and equipment for the country, including this donation.”
He said because of the usual drought in Northern Ghana the CDC found it expedient to initiate interventions to check the spread of the disease.
Dr Nyaku said the five-year project, which was in its second year, was, however, focused on immunisation as part of efforts in preventing meningitis and many other diseases in Ghana.
He stated that it was important to keep data and records of these immunisation projects in the country so as make improvements in subsequent disease controls, saying, “The CDC’s main goal is to prevent the spread of diseases globally”.
He said nurses were being trained on immunization across the country to visit various schools to cover as many people as possible.
“So we are looking at a broader picture of providing health containers for schools everywhere in this project,” he explained.
Dr Ebenezer Appiah Denkyira, the Director General of the GHS, who received the donation, expressed appreciation, saying: “We are grateful to the CDC for improving our limited resources.”
He told the Ghana News Agency, in an interview, that the GHS had not recorded any outbreak of meningitis this year, and expressed optimism that the donation would help to prevent the spread of the disease.
Dr Joseph Opare, the National Project Coordinator of 2YL, explained that Meningitis, caused by a bacteria or virus, manifested as an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and the spinal cord.
Injuries to the spinal cord, cancer, and certain drugs can also result in meningitis.
The disease is commonly spread through close contact, sneezing, coughing and kissing with affected persons.
Symptoms include fever, and headache coupled with pain and stiffness in the neck, convulsions and confusion, which are experienced within two to 10 days of infection.
However, it could be successfully treated with antibiotics when patients report early to health facilities.
As part of preventive measures, the public is advised to drink a lot of water, ventilate their living places and frequently wash their hands under running water before eating or cooking, and after visiting the washroom.
It is also advisable to avoid crowded areas during an outbreak of meningitis.