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29.04.2009 General News

MOH on alert to investigate, manage suspected cases of swine flu

By gna
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Accra, April 29, GNA - The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday said though Ghana had not yet identified any cases of swine influenza, it would remain on high alert to investigate and manage any suspected cases.

The Ministry has therefore called on the general public to cooperate by reporting all flu-like illnesses to the nearest health facility for proper diagnoses and treatment.

A statement issued by the Ministry and signed by Dr. George Sipa-Adjah Yankey, Minster of Health, advised that there should be no restriction of regular travel or closure of boarders, which was in line current WHO recommendations.

However, it considered it prudent for people who were ill to delay international travel and for people developing symptoms following international travels to seek immediate medical attention.

The statement said a National Human Influenza Health Committee, made up of agencies and departments that dealt in health and disaster management, met on Tuesday to discuss and assess the local and international situations and endorse measures to deal with the situation.

The institutions included MOH, Ghana Health Service (GHS), Food and Drugs Board, Korle-bu Teaching Hospital, Police Hospital, 37 Military Hospital, NADMO, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Port Health, Ghana Immigration Service, Ghana Airport Company Limited, Veterinary Services Department and the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana.

It said the committee further endorsed that an alert on the outbreak be sent to all regions and districts and regular updates made.

There should be enhancement of surveillance for early detection nationwide and steps taken to ensure adequate stocks of antiviral drugs, supplies and personal protective equipment that have been propositioned in regions for treatment of cases.

The statement said in addition the committee, agreed that the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research be designated as the lead institution for cases confirmed and charged to update protocols for specimen collection and transportation.

The MOH and its agencies had also been charged to put in place systems for prompt and appropriate management of all cases, while all regional hospitals established isolation wards for management of swine flu cases.

The statement indicated that in the Greater Accra Region, the Korle-bu Teaching Hospital, the 37 Military and the Police Hospitals would serve as referral treatment centres, while regular press releases were issued by MOH to educate the public.

The statement further advised the general public to observe simple precautions such as washing of hands with soap immediately after handling pigs, report symptoms of fever, cough and breathing difficulties after one had handled sick and dying pigs immediately to health facilities for medical attention.

It also advised that pork be well cooked, at least above 70 degree Celsius to ensure that they were safe for eating.

There have been reported outbreaks of swine influenza in humans in Mexico, US, Canada, Spain and some other countries, adding that the current situation regarding the type A/H1N1 was still revolving rapidly.

The disease may present itself like common cold with cough, sore-throat, fever, catarrh, general weakness, body ache and headache, severe pneumonia and chest pains.

GNA

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