Coalition Of NGOs On Outbreak Of Menningitis In Schools In The U/E Resulting In The Loss Of Lives Of Students
We members of the Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health, Upper Region has noted with concern the outbreak of meningitis in SHSs in the Upper East Region resulting in the deaths of some students and wish to appeal to the government and for that matter the Ministry of Health to as a matter of urgency take measures that are necessary to contain the menace.
Information coming from our intelligence source and media indicate that the disease has already claimed several lives of students in some of our Senior High schools in the Upper East Region.
The Coalition wishes to throw caution to the Ministry of Health that failure to handle the situation with the enthusiasm and urgency that is expected of it as a key institution could lead to further and more mortalities thus leading to disaffection for public institution which are funded with the tax payer’s money to save lives.
We have noted with despair the lackadaisical attitude that was shown in the case of the Kumasi Academy case 1 seven months ago and fear that same may aggravate the situation in the Upper East Region on the meningitis case. We strongly believe that if the government and for that matter the Ministry of Health had not gone to sleep on the job the recurrence of what is now known to be H1N1 and which has claimed many lives would never have taken place.
Intelligence has indicated that the recent reports of the occurrence of meningitis which has claimed many lives so far is precipitated by overcrowding in the schools. Our investigations show that most schools in the region have been compelled to run the in-out system of lodging with many students sleeping outside due to overcrowding. This unorthodox arrangements by the affected schools though not any fault of theirs is unthinkable as it comes with a myriad of health menace.
Between October and November this year many schools in the region had had to contend with several deaths of students blamable to the stress many of them especially those already with compromised health statuses were going through. We condemn in uncertain terms government’s penchant for explaining away issues of national importance on grounds of political expedience.
We particularly condemn the politicization of the recent report of the issue of overcrowding in our senior by government and call on them to stop trivializing health issues.
Our Suggestions: given the mass negative impact of the disease to the people of the region and for that matter Ghana, we suggest the following for containing and comprehensively managing the situation in order to prevent further mortalities:
- Decongest all boarding to avoid the spread of the disease by providing tents or pavilions to shelter students till the rains sets or the conditions are favourable
- To avoid further overcrowding of our schools in the next academic year steps should be taken to avoid placing more applicants than the schools can contain and also take measures to ensure that the day-school system is encouraged while the existing ones are fully utilized.
- Provide an effective, efficient and reliable emergency response system through the establishment of clinics managed by at least a physician assistant; most schools have student populations of not less than 2000. This puts stress on the already stressed health facilities in the towns or communities in which the schools are sited so in the event of an emergency such facilities cannot provide effective emergency support.
- In the absence of a clinic especially for the less populated schools well equipped infirmaries should be provided.
- The government should avoid the construction of honeycombed classroom structures which are usually poorly illuminated and also cause poor ventilation and intellectual health challenges.
- Schools should be supported in terms of the provision of information materials related to common infectious diseases including meningitis and flu cases and training extended to them so they are in the position to carry out sensitization or awareness creation by themselves
- Psychosocial and psychological treatment should always be provided to affected students and staffs as when necessary
- Government should be provide or set aside an independent fund to manage epidemics and or disease outbreaks irrespective of their proportions.
- Government should stop the politicization of health issues on grounds of political expediency since no disease is respects political colors.
SGND: HON. ASAKYA NOBLE ALASKOMAH