The Upper East Region continues to record more cases of the deadly Cerebro-Spinal Meningitis (CSM) disease, with more deaths being recorded.
The region has now recorded 204 cases, with 27 deaths, according to the Regional Director of the Health Service, Dr. J. Koku Awoonor-Williams. This is an increase from 102 cases, 16 deaths recorded two weeks ago.
The Builsa district is leading with 89 cases with nine deaths, followed by Bongo District with one reported case.
Dr. Awoonor-Williams disclosed that the region had requested for about 150,000 vaccines to commerce vaccination in the three most affected districts where there is an outbreak.
At the time of fling this report yesterday, the first batch of 40,000 vaccines was yet to arrive in the region.
The Health Director was, however, worried that this number was not enough to cater for the population of the affected areas, stressing; “40,000 is a drop in the ocean, and so we are also strategising and mapping out areas of high risk, so that we can target those area and address them.”
Meanwhile, the Regional Health Directorate is keeping surveillance on all the districts, and any district of about 100,000 population that hits a threshold by recording more than ten cases, would be declared an outbreak.
In an interview with this paper, Dr. Awoonor-Williams lamented that frequent power outages had broken down the cold storage systems in the hospitals and health centers in the Upper East Region that are used in storing vaccines.
He said solar system management for the health facilities in the region had not also been effective to help address the situation. He said, especially, during this time of the year, there is so much dust, even though the sun is scorching.
According to him, maintenance of the solar system was a major problem, because most of the solar equipment repairers are in the South, and whenever the systems break down, it becomes extremely difficult to get them to repair them.
As a result, almost all the health facilities in the region are relying on electricity, which is more efficient when available.
The Director revealed that some of the vaccine equipment, especially vaccine fridges, had broken down due to frequent power outages, describing it as a major problem facing the health facilities. This, he said, was compounded because the region was in the meningitis season.
Although the Director acknowledged that sometimes the power outages were beyond the Volta River Authority (VRA), he lamented that the cost of repair of these equipment was too high.
“Sometimes these equipments are badly damaged that they are even beyond repairs, and we have to go forward to buy new fridges. And vaccine fridges are not just ordinary fridges, and when we get them breaking down, it has always been a problem,” he lamented.
He disclosed that the worst affected areas included the Bawku West District, Bawku Municipality and Kassena-Nankana District, where CSM outbreaks have been largely recorded.
Dr. Awoonor-Williams said apart from the district hospitals, all sub districts, District Health Management Teams, and CHPS Compounds do not have standby-generators to store the vaccines.
He said one way of the Health Directorate addressing the problem was to keep the vaccines at the regional capital, where there was bigger capacity to store the vaccines.
He said, however, if these vaccines are kept at the regional capital cold store, the cost of transportation to the districts’ hospitals and health facilities will be high.
Again, the vaccines would not be ready whenever they are needed for immediate use, which could also affect health delivery under emergency situations.
Source: The Chronicle
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