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28.10.2005 Health

CSM epidemic forecasted for this year in U/E

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Bolgatanga, Oct. 28, GNA - The Upper East Regional Director of Health Services, Dr Joseph Amankwah, on Friday urged residents of the Region to respond to this year's vaccination campaign against Cerebro-Spinal Meningitis (CSM) with the utmost seriousness, as there is the likelihood of an outbreak of the epidemic this year.

Addressing a meeting of the Regional Epidemic Committee in Bolgatanga, Dr Amankwah explained that the Region had a CSM epidemic cycle of between eight and 10 years and that the last outbreak occurred in 1996.

He said between January and September this year, the Region had officially recorded 86 CSM cases, out of which 21 died. "As far as our charts are concerned we could have a serious situation on our hands any moment from now as the dry season approaches and the earlier we prepare for it the better," he said. He recalled the 1996 epidemic, which claimed scores of lives across the Region, saying the casualty rate would have been minimal if people in the communities had heeded the advice of health personnel by going for the vaccination, suspending funeral celebrations and sleeping in well-ventilated places.

Dr Amankwah announced that the next National Immunization Day falls between November 11 and November 13 and urged health personnel to work hard to achieve a total coverage of the Region. "I suggest that you even follow up the people to their farms and immunize them if they become too busy with their harvest," he emphasised.

He said there were adequate stockpiles of vaccines to cover the Region's population effectively in the event of an outbreak, but added that his outfit did not have sufficient vehicles to enable field staff to reach the remote areas in a large-scale operation.

The Health Director said his outfit was intensifying public education to create awareness especially on CSM and cholera in the local languages, using the local FM radio networks and the public address system of the Information Services Department.

Also discussed by the Committee members at the meeting was the Region's cholera situation, which members agreed was rather volatile considering the poor sanitary conditions, coupled with the poor quality of drinking water in the local communities.

The Committee called on the Environmental Health Department, District assemblies and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to come out with action plans, including the use of force, to make the conscious observance of healthy sanitary practices a normal part of life in the communities.