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Editorial News of Monday, 20 April 2020

Source: Ghanaian Times

Ghanaian Times: Time to pay attention to meningitis outbreak in the north

In the midst of the growing spread of COVID-19 across communities in the country, there appears to be the disease called meningitis whose outbreak in the five Northern regions is not receiving enough attention.

Unfortunately, the disease, which breaks out annually at this time of the year, has as of Wednesday, April 15, affected at least 409 persons in the five regions in the Northern sector of the country, with 40 deaths, according the Ghana Health Service (GHS).

A statement issued by the GHS Director-General, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, said the death rate in the affected regions, comprising Northern, North East, Savannah, Upper East and Upper West, as of Wednesday, represented a 15 per cent fatality rate.

According to him, the current outbreak is a new strain with no known vaccine which is one of the reasons for the high fatalities.

“Though there is no vaccine for the strain causing the current outbreak, effective treatment is available. There is the need to ensure early reporting and initiation of treatment to significantly improve outcome and improve survival rate”, he said.

Dr Kuma-Aboagye, therefore, advised residents in those areas to report early for treatment since investigations had shown that, the high fatality was due to late reporting of cases.

Although, it would appear that the GHS Regional Directorate is taking the appropriate steps to deal with the outbreak, the Ghanaian Times is concerned about the high fatality rate.

Our major worry is that, the outbreak of meningitis has coincided with the spread of COVID-19 which the country is desperately battling to contain.

That coincidence would be disastrous and too much for the country to handle as both diseases are deadly and could wipe out hundreds of people within a few days if care is not taken.

The Ghanaian Times therefore calls for intensified efforts at all levels to contain the disease by giving substantial attention to the meningitis disease just as we are giving to Covid-19.

The Ghana Health Service should not leave any stone unturned in managing it. The needed supplies, funds and personnel must be made available to combat the disease.

We must not treat the disease as a seasonal one which would vanish once its season is over. We should bear in mind that 40 lives have been lost already and more could go if we do not fortify our defence.

The good news is that the disease can be treated and so we urge the public to play their role in the combat, by reporting the cases as soon as they feel ill, for early treatment.

We have lost more lives than we should and we must do all that we can to prevent more from being lost.

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