Eighteen cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM) fatalities have been recorded in the Upper West Region in the past three months.
The fatalities are out of 137 suspected cases that were reported at the various health facilities across the 11 districts in the region.
The Upper West Regional Disease Control Officer, Mrs Justina Zoyah-Diedong, disclosed this during an emergency epidemic management committee meeting held in Wa over the weekend.
The meeting, which was attended by selected participants from across the region, was to share ideas and strategise towards prevention and early diagnosis towards containing the outbreak before it became an epidemic.
Mrs Zoyah-Diedong said this year’s fatalities were worse than last year’s, when eight people died, out of the 182 suspected cases.
She indicated that the worst affected districts were Nandom, Nadowli, Jirapa, Daffiama-Bussie-Issa and Lawra, with Nadowli topping the list with seven fatalities so far, followed by Nandom and Jirapa, with five fatalities each, and Lawra, which had recorded one fatality.
“So far, five districts have reported meningitis cases. Analysis by districts of residence shows that all those districts have reported one or two cases of meningitis,” she said, adding that there were fear and anxiety that more cases could be recorded, since the conditions bringing about the disease were still prevalent.
The symptoms of the disease were fever, severe headache, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, photophobia, altered consciousness, convulsions and coma, Mrs Zoyah-Diedong said.
She explained that this year temperatures had been very high and attributed the situation to the uncontrolled destruction of the environment in the region.
She said the environmental degradation could be attributed to the rampant felling of lumber and trees for charcoal burning and the harvesting of Rosewood, sheanut trees, among others, for commercial purposes.
Mrs Zoyah-Diedong said at the moment while the Nadowli-Kaleo District had crossed the epidemic threshold of seven deaths, Jirapa and Nandom had both reached their alert threshold and so utmost care must be exercised to avoid further deaths.
Such care, she said, included early reporting of cases at the nearest health facilities for diagnosis and treatment.
She cautioned against overcrowding and expressed reservation about the situation in some of the senior high schools across the region where there was poor ventilation in the dormitories.
She mentioned the delay in getting results of samples from laboratory tests from Tamale in the Northern Region, inadequate funding for the procurement of equipment and poor logistics as some of the impediments to health service delivery in the region.