Contain The Meningitis Outbreak Lest It Claims More Lives Than COVID-19
The Center for Policy Advocacy and Governance write to draw the Government’s attention to another rare public health crisis that has bedeviled the residents of the Upper West region.
The Regional Minister of Upper West has declared that 258 people have contracted a rare type of the Cerebrospinal Meningitis (Serotype X), with 40 deaths in the last thirteen weeks.
The Upper and Northern Regions lie in the meningitis belt of sub-Sahara Africa with high temperatures coupled with dust, low humidity and ventilation amidst overcrowding throughout the year makes the region(s) susceptible to the disease.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the coverings of the brain and spinal cord which could be caused by bacterial, viral or fungal infections.
With this current type of meningitis outbreak (serotype X), 70% of people infected with the disease die because there is no known vaccine strain for the treatment just like COVID-19.
Worrisomely, Government continues to organize pressers to brief the nation on Covid-19 but seemly pay low level of attention to this devastating outbreak whose case fatality is lethargic than Covid-19.
We, therefore, call on government as a matter of urgency:
1. Initiate an immediate sero type X Meningitis response plan and intensify surveillance for early reporting, detection and case management.
2. Purchase and stock health facilities with the serotype X vaccines, test kits and reagents for laboratory investigations.
3. Prepare stimulus packages for front liners in this epidemic belt.
4. Provide a safety social net for people whose lives have been hamstrung by this crisis.
5. Supply at least a vehicle to each MMDA in the region since 80% of the deaths recorded are as a result of delays in reporting to the health facilities and for information dissemination
In furtherance, persons infected with CSM are stigmatized as if they have contracted COVID-19 due to similarities of symptoms.
We, therefore, appeal to the media to dedicate part of their airtime to intensify public education and sensitization on the mode of transmission, signs and symptoms and preventive measures of the epidemic.
In conclusion, we believe giving equal attention to both outbreaks would be a ceasing moment to kill two birds with one stone.
Mumuni Believer Likpalmor
Executive Director, RECPAG