Opinion:Pneumococcal Meningitis;Ghana's 'Ebola' Outbreak

Opinion:Pneumococcal Meningitis;Ghana's 'Ebola' Outbreak

Editors Note: Pneumococcal Meningitis has hit several districts in Ghana and as one should not have expected, the bacterial strain keeps spreading and claiming tens of lives in the Northern, Brong-Ahafo and Ashanti Regions. But even as the Ministry of Health deploys its resources to tackle the fast-spreading disease, we ask if the recent Pneumococcal Meningitis is a clear replay of the deadly Ebola Outbreak!

When news broke of the outbreak of the deadly strain of Pneumococcal Meningitis in the Northern Region of Ghana, one would have thought there could be rush to tracking and preventing the spread of the silent-killing disease. But no! The disease spread fast across the Tain District of the Brong Ahafo Region, leaving deadly scars in over six districts of the very same region. As if that was not enough, the year 2016 just started with the strain continuing to kill innocent Ghanaians bringing the overall number of deaths to almost 30 ( with an approximated number of about 28 people killed); the Ashanti Region being the latest victim.

One would have thought that our government had learnt lessons from the deadly Ebola outbreak which started so innocently in Guinea, spreading so violently to three other West African states (Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria)- an outbreak indeed that shook the world to the ground! One would have thought, that our Ministry of Health would have started waging a fierce war against this very deadly disease which has been documented to be gaining grounds slowly.

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A fierce war in the sense that with a disease known to spread mainly from the droplets of infected persons, so that the sharing of spoons, cups and other personal items be warned against, we could have at least started with some public awareness of the disease through the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to all the vibrant media int he country. The Ministry of Health could have started deploying information vans to the rural areas of the country just so crowded families and poorer communities at least get to guard themselves with information.

Not to go far, it has been documented by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) that one of the precautionary measures against this deadly strain of meningitis was through vaccination. The simple question here is...have all children, persons over 65 and others with the potential of contracting the disease being vaccinated? Your guess is good as mine.

We saw through the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus how countries with even the poorest health care delivery systems acted so fast employing the clinical use of Isolation centers, Tracking and Surveillance of affected persons and the person(s) they had had contacts with.  For our information, there is something as ISOLATION too with regards to the outbreak of Pneumococcal Meningitis; there also is something that has to do with Surveillance and Tracking of the disease and how it spreads - But the question is, why is government so late in employing these emergency steps?

For those of us feeling lucky across unaffected regions as the Greater Accra, Volta or even Central Regions, we must bear in mind that our fellow Ghanaians in the Ashanti Region also felt that way too. We are all at risk should there not be a critical timely clinical intervention.

Research has shown that considering our cohesiveness as a nation, this deadly bacterial disease had the highest potential of spreading thick and fast across slums and densely populated areas. We need to ask ourselves - if we had acted so poorly in containing the spread of this disease in the North, Brong Ahafo and Ashanti Regions, what shows we remain committed to preventing the disease from spreading across all regions.

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Considering Ghana's poor National Health Service Scheme, Road Naming and Mapping Initiative, Macro-Economic Strength...not to talk about the traditional acculturation of disease outbreaks, there is the highest possibility that the nation could experience a play-back  of the horrific scenes witnessed through the outbreak of Ebola.

Ghana needs to sit up! Our Ministry of Health needs to get serious! Our Political Appointees at the local municipal level need to act faster before the outbreak of pneumococcal meningitis turns into a national health emergency.

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