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General News of Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Source: GNA

Cholera cases spreading fast with 34 deaths so far

Accra, Feb. 23, GNA - A total of 1,396 cholera cases have been recorde= d in three Regions with 34 deaths giving an overall attack rate of 2.6 per cent over a period of five months.

The Regions affected are; Central, Eastern and Greater Accra with Greater Accra Region recording the highest cases of 742 with 13 deaths. Briefing the media in Accra on Wednesday, on the current situation and measures being made to salvage the situation, Mr Emmanuel Dzotsi, of the Diseases Surveillance Unit of Ghana Health Service (GHS) said Central Regio= n had the first cholera case in September 2010 and had up to date recorded 39= 6 cases with 18 deaths, whilst Eastern Region had recorded 258 cases with three deaths.

He said the current trend posed a possibility of the cholera spreading to the other Regions if serious control measures were not put in place. Mr Dzotsi said control of the epidemic was multi-sectoral which should have included the Ministries of Local Government and Rural Development, Water Resources, Works and Housing, Information, Interior as well as the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and not only the Ministry of Health as being perceived by the citizenry.

He said series of control measures had been instituted to respond to the epidemic which included provision of technical support, drugs, laboratory reagents for diagnosis and cases management as well as public education and there were more to be done.

Mr Dzotsi noted that the nation was faced with challenges such as the outbreak not being able to be controlled, inadequate isolation wards, poor environmental hygiene and inadequate safe water in most communities. He said early onset of the rains this year had also contributed to the increase in the widespread and called on AMA to enforce its bye-laws on sanitation and food hygiene whilst the water sector also ensured adequate access to safe water.

"We should also improve case management and ensure community involvement, ensure adequate management of dead bodies by plugging all orifices with antiseptics of two per cent chlorine and cover bodies with plastic sheets before burial", he added. Dr Edward Antwi, Deputy Greater Accra Regional Health Director, said most of the cases recorded in the Region were from Accra Metropolis with th= e age group between 21-30 years.

He reiterated the need to improve case management, intensify public education and ensure water supply and sanitation. Dr Joseph Amankwa, Director of Public Health of GHS described the situation as critical and called for all hands to be on deck to ensure that cholera was eradicated in the country.

Dr Elias Sory, Director-General of GHS, said the incubation period of the bacteria was two to 48 hours and urged travellers to be extra cautious whilst people should also be mindful of whatever food they buy out of home.