KUMACA deaths: Test results not ready – Health Minister

General News of Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Source: citifmonline.com

2017-12-06

Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu

The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, has told Parliament that his outfit is still waiting for the results of tests being conducted on blood samples of students from the Kumasi Academy (KUMACA), to determine the cause of the recent deaths at the school.

Four students have died in the last week because of an unidentified ailment, prompting panicked parents to rush to the school to withdraw their wards.

With no confirmed cause of the deaths from the Health Ministry, several purported causes have been suggested by health officials.

Despite earlier suggestions that the deaths were caused by meningitis, officials from the Ghana Health Service (GHS) have since ruled it out, and are instead, suspecting a bacterial infection.

The Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah, also had to refute claims by some media outlets that he had attributed the deaths to Ebola.

But according to the Minister of Health, experts at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research of the University of Ghana, were still working on the samples they had obtained from the school to determine the cause of the deaths.

“I’ve indicated that Noguchi is still working on samples and they haven’t confirmed whatever suspicions the doctors have to enable us look at what it is. For now, we are doing chemotherapy trying to give whatever medication that can prevent further infections to the students in the school,” he said.

Health officials in the Ashanti Region, have begun administering antibiotics to students in a bid to curb the situation.

Kwaku Agyeman Manu, speaking in Parliament after he was summoned to the House to brief the legislators on the current state of the matter, however expressed worry that some parents had already taken their children home.

The Ministry of Education has since called on parents to allow their wards return to the school to take the antibiotics which are being distributed to both the students and teachers of the school.

The Health Minister reiterated this point in Parliament, expressing his fears that if the condition was eventually revealed to be communicable, it would place other members of the students’ families and neighbours at risk.

“Unfortunately last night, information came up that parents have taken their wards from the school and this has become another health challenge because the medical advice said that we should contain them in the school, and manage them more efficiently. The problem we now have is that, if the disease is confirmed to be a very contagious one, it will mean that those who have come out of the school into their family homes are going to help spread the disease. That is the challenge we are confronted with,” he said.

19 students of the school are currently on admission, with 16 at the KNUST hospital, and three others at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH).

The Deputy Education Minister, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, told the media when he visited the school on Wednesday, that government will do everything possible to address the problem.

He also said the school will be closed down to allow for further investigations after the drugs are administered.

Deputy Education Minister, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum [Middle] with the Ashanti Regional Minister [Right] and some other officials

‘Spiritual causes’

Some parents had earlier called for intensified prayers into the recent deaths at the Academy, as they suspect the happenings there could have spiritual origins.

The parents also want Watch Night Services to be organized in the school to seek God’s intervention as authorities work to find a lasting solution to the matter.

The MP for Asawase, Muntaka Mubarak, had earlier warned that people in his constituency who are extremely worried about the lack of clarity on the issues might start attributing the situation to a number of factors which could create panic.

“Mr. Speaker, my fear is that, if we are not careful, that school will be empty with all the infrastructure that it has because you will hear people in Kumasi saying it is occultism, it is spiritual, it is some demons that are in the school. All manner of things are being said,” the legislator said.

The Health Minister called on MPs and other officials to be ‘professional’ in how they address the matter so as not to create ‘unnecessary panic.’

“I want to advise that in order not to create unnecessary tension and panic in the system, those of us who are talking about the issue should be a little professional in the way they speak.”

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