CSM Victims Consoled

Prevention of cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM), the disease currently plaguing the Upper West Region was addressed in parliament Tuesday with the current death toll believed to be around 20 and hundreds more in poor health. In his statement on the floor of Parliament, Dr. Francis Bawaana Dakura, MP for Jirapa spoke about the situation which has blighted his district, “Every year this CSM cycle repeats itself to precision and to such an extent that it can no longer be regarded as isolated events. Jirapa is the worst hit with Dakura revealing that 53 communities there have had individuals needing urgent medical attention.” He rallied for his colleagues to agree that CSM vaccinations should be included within the Health Planning and Delivery system. The report splashed across Ghana’s media on Tuesday morning was brought before the House by Dakur to help find ways to prevent the ravaged region from experiencing a similar calamity in the future. The Upper West region is very prone to instances of meningitis during the hot, dry months and is part of the so-called Sub-Saharan “meningitis belt.” The current infrastructure however has had difficulties containing the existing situation. This is due, in part, to the recent outbreak being a new and particularly vicious strain of the disease known as W135. Its arrival to Ghana for the first time has caught health workers and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) unawares. The prevention process is a huge one but a vaccine is being made available through the World Health Organisation (WHO). Dakur told the house that measures against the deadly bacteria should have been taken earlier. The current situation “is a blot on our entire health delivery system and a serious obstacle to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.” He described the fact that vaccinations were not readily provided before as “completely unacceptable” and lamented that it had taken this year’s tragedy to earn the issue its due attention. According to him, vaccinations should have been organized years ago with successive governments simply ignoring what has become a yearly occurrence (outbreaks of CSM). He said the timings and movements of the disease were very predictable. For that reason, “the people are demanding answers as to why they are not vaccinated early enough ahead of the CSM period.” Dr. Kofi Asare, MP for Akwtia, Dr. Mustapha Ahmed, MP for Ayawaso East, Abdul-Rashid Pelpuo, MP for Wa Central and Deputy Majority leader were the most vocal in their agreement with Dakur. All the MPs joined him in mourning the lives lost.