Regional News of Tuesday, 19 August 2014
The number of cholera cases reported in the Greater Accra Region has increased from 3,600 to 5,000 with 45 deaths since July this year, the Greater Accra Regional Health Director of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Linda Van Otoo has said.
Out of the number, the Accra metropolis alone recorded about 2,500 cases with about 1,000 cases reported in a week.
Dr Otoo made this known when the Minister of Health, Dr Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah, and his Deputy, Dr Victor Bampoe, accompanied by the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Nii Laryea Afotey-Agbo, the Director General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Ebenezer Appiah Denkyira, and some other officials visited the La General Hospital in Accra Monday.
The visit was for the minister to be abreast with how the hospital was handling the outbreak of cholera in the La community, as well as find ways of assisting health personnel to perform their duties diligently.
As of the time of the visit, the hospital had recorded about 790 cholera cases since the first outbreak in July this year.
Cholera, an acute diarrhoea illness caused by a bacteria, can result in a rapidly progressive dehydration, causing discomfort and possibly death.
If severe diarrhoea and vomiting are not treated, it can, within few hours, result in life-threatening dehydration and bodily imbalance.
Dr Otoo said over the years, the region had been recording very high numbers of cholera cases.
She said in 2013, there was no case of cholera reported adding that, “We had about 22 cases of diarrhoea with no deaths."
Unfortunately, she said 2014 had come with its own woes, as the number of cases reported in the region was increasing.
Dr Otoo said records available showed that the disease was attacking the productive age groups while some few cases of children and the aged had been reported.
She said the disease attacked more males than females.
To curb the situation, Dr Otoo said any vehicle that transported a cholera patient to a health facility should wait to be fumigated before it left the facility.
The move, she said was part of the many strategies that the service was putting in place to help curb the cholera outbreak that had hit the metropolis.
Therefore, she said, drivers should patiently wait for their vehicles to be disinfected before leaving the hospital premises in order not for a passenger who sat in the vehicle to contract the disease in any form.
Subsequently, she said GHS, in collaboration, with the Epidemiology Division of the School of Public Health, through a study, had identified that people defecated in open drains in the full glare of the public with no punishment.
“We found out that at Circle, people defecate in the open drains, and we are told that even in the afternoon, they do not feel shy and this same thing is happening in some of our communities."
She said it was unfortunate that those drains had pipelines mounted in them, describing the situation as a source of worry.
Dr Otoo, therefore, suggested that a campaign should be mounted to rid Accra of filth and also educate the public on cholera.
In his remarks the Minister of Heath, Dr Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah, commended all hospital authorities for the effort they put in alleviating the outbreak of cholera in the metropolis.
He described the situation as sad, adding that the deaths could have been prevented if patients had reported to the hospitals early.
“45 preventable deaths have been recorded, and this is sad because people are not paying attention to personal hygiene and environmental cleanliness,” he said.
Dr Agyeman-Mensah said it was high time the sanitation by-laws were used to deal with those who flouted the laws in order to help reduce the number of people who got infected and died from cholera.
He said the ministry would make available all resources that were needed to help curb the cholera epidemic adding that, “We must all work together and make sure that what has happened is not repeated."
For his part, the Senior Health Service Administrator of the La General Hospital, Mr Philip Afeti Korto, advised patients to report to the hospital for early treatment.
He said the hospital was doing all it could to curb the situation but needed more resources including infrastructure to isolate and treat cholera patients.