Sixteen rabies-related deaths in the Upper East Region, have been recorded by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in the past four years.
Mr Baba Awuni, the Upper East Regional Surveillance Officer, attributed the cause of deaths to failure by victims of dog bites to report to health facilities as soon as the bites occured and said “In 2016 we recorded six deaths, in 2017 we recorded four deaths, in 2018, three deaths and then this year we have recorded three deaths so far.”
In 2016, one case was recorded in Bolgatanga, while Kassena Nankana West (KNW) and Nabdam Districts recorded two deaths each and in 2017, Builsa South District recorded one, while two cases were recorded in Bolgatanga and Kassena Nankana Municipality (KNM) and KNW recorded one each.
The Bongo District recorded two cases in 2018, while Bolgatanga recorded one case and in 2019 Bawku West District and KNM recorded one case each.
Mr Awuni said his outfit was in collaboration with the Veterinary Services Department and other stakeholders to curtail the trend of rabies related deaths in the Region.
The Surveillance Officer was speaking at the Regional Public Health Emergency Management Committee (PHEMC) meeting in Bolgatanga, which brought together various stakeholders in the Region to deliberate on diseases of public health concern.
He explained that “Usually they don’t report when they get the bites until when they get the signs and symptoms that they come to our hospitals. Rabies as we are all aware, once you begin to show the signs and symptoms, the fatality is always very high.”
On Cerebro Spinal Meningitis (CSM), the Surveillance Officer said “Since the beginning of the season, we have put in place measures to ensure that we are not taken by surprise. We have taken stocks, made some requests from the national level, we have had some support.”
He said the Public Health Unit of the GHS in the Region had embarked on a series of education and advocacy in the media, and meetings with stakeholders to ensure early detection and treatment of CSM and had earlier held a cross-border meeting with its counterparts in Burkina Faso and Togo to effectively collaborate to control any outbreak.
Mr Awuni said the Region was in the meningitis season and had so far this year, recorded a total of 131suspected meningitis cases out of which 37 were confirmed positive, “but for the season which began in October, we have recorded eight cases so far and all of them according to our investigations here are negative.”
He said even though their investigations proved negative, the samples would be forwarded to the Public Health reference laboratory in Tamale for further confirmation.
Dr Josephat Nyuzaghl, the Upper East Regional Deputy Director in charge of Public Health said the meeting, which was supposed to be held on quarterly bases, was unfortunately held for the second time in the year because of competing programmes during the year.
He expressed worry about the recorded cases of rabies, which resulted in deaths and emphasised the need for victims of dog bites to immediately report to the nearest health facility for appropriate action.
Madam Tangoba Abayage, the Upper East Regional Minister, commended the Regional Health Directorate and members of the Committee for their contributions, which had significantly improved on efforts to prevent, detect and respond to public health challenges in the Region.