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14.06.2004 General News

Respiratory Tract Infections major cause of death in Ghana

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Accra, June 14, GNA - Records from the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital Mortuary in 2002 showed that Respiratory Tract Infections (RTIs) recorded the highest percentage of death with 1,295 patients dying out of 3,085 that reported with the disease.

The infections were largely bacterial pneumonias and tuberculosis with the primary pneumonias being common in young children while secondary pneumonias occurred in the middle aged and the elderly. Dr Richard K. Gyasi, of the Department of Pathology of the University of Ghana Medical School (UGMS) said this in Accra when he made a presentation on "Respiratory, causes of death in Ghana" at a day's national symposium for the Southern Sector of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA).

The symposium, under the theme: "Diseases of the Respiratory Tract: Update" was part of the continuing professional development for GMA members.

Dr Gyasi said other infections recorded 698 cases, vascular diseases, 424 cases, tumour cases were 83; accidents and trauma recorded 72 cases while Chronic Obstructed Airwave Diseases (COPD) recorded the lowest with 18 cases.

He explained that COPD could be under represented since autopsies performed were mainly on sudden deaths from status asthmaticus, adding; "a more careful study with full histology support may yield more cases". Professor Adukwei Hesse, of the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, UGMS, said chronic respiratory disorders were becoming increasingly important causes of morbidity and mortality in the world over.

He said the World health Organisation Health report for 2000 indicated that the five top respiratory diseases accounted for 17.4 per cent of all deaths and 13.3 per cent of all Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs).

Prof. Hesse noted that though chronic respiratory disorders were not recognised in Ghana, respiratory diseases were among the commonest cause of mobility and mortality in the country.

He urged parents and guardians to report their children with common cold to the clinic for thorough treatment since the immunity of children was weaker than adults.

He noted that severe cold in children might lead to pneumonia because their smaller airways were likely to be obstructed making breathing either fast or difficult.

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