Ghana Health Service Vigilant as Meningitis Outbreak Escalates in Upper West Region

Ghana Health Service Vigilant as Meningitis Outbreak Escalates in Upper West Region
Ghana Health Service

Written by Afua Amankwanowa


The Ghana Health Service is actively engaged in surveillance efforts to ascertain the root cause of the ongoing meningitis outbreak in the Upper West Region, given the recent uptick in fatalities from 8 to 10. Dr. Franklyn Asiedu Bekoe, Director of Public Health at the Ghana Health Service, underscores the imperative of curtailing the spread of the disease. Meningitis, a recurrent health challenge in Ghana, particularly affects the northern regions, notably the Upper West Region. Notably, in 2020, the region grappled with 44 fatalities out of over 300 suspected cases. However, as of March 19, 2024, the death toll has climbed to ten, with suspected cases escalating from 81 to 110. 


The public is urged to refrain from self-medication and refrain from presuming that every fever symptomizes malaria. Dr. Franklyn Asiedu-Bekoe elucidates that the recent cases exhibit characteristics of stress pneumonia, though the precise bacterial strain remains unidentified. Intensive investigations are ongoing to pinpoint the pathogen through a case-by-case analysis. Despite parallels to the 2020 outbreak, the current situation is perceived to be of a lesser magnitude.


In response to the evolving crisis, an emergency regional committee meeting has been convened to strategize interventions. Preceding alerts had underscored the necessity of seeking medical attention for febrile illnesses beyond the realm of malaria. Vigilant surveillance endeavors persist to delineate the causative agent, which may prompt considerations for vaccination protocols should meningitis be conclusively diagnosed.


The temporal pattern of meningitis outbreaks, typically manifesting between November and April, coincides with elevated temperatures exacerbated by climatic changes. Meningitis engenders infection and inflammation of the meninges enveloping the spinal cord and brain, attributed to an array of pathogens including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. The mortality rate associated with meningitis in Ghana is estimated to range from 36% to 50%, underscoring the gravity of the ongoing public health challenge.



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