A Virologist, Professor Kwamena Sagoe, says Ghana should consider reaching out for international assistance in identifying the actual disease killing students at the Kumasi Academy Senior High School in the Ashanti Region.
Prof. Sagoe, who is also the Head of Department of Medical Microbiology, School of Biomedical and Allied Health Sciences, University of Ghana suspects the inability of the various laboratories to detect the actual disease after a series of tests, could be an indication that “we may need outside help”.
At least 11 students of the institution have died over the last nine months with four of the deaths recorded within a week, from a disease that is yet to be named by health authorities. Over 40 others have been receiving treatment at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Hospital.
Several laboratory examinations at Noguchi, KNUST and Tamale have all ruled out meningitis which was earlier suspected to be the cause of the deaths.
Parents are agitated over the inconclusiveness of the various laboratory tests which could help in prescribing appropriate medications for those infected instead of the current administering of broad-based antibiotics.
However, speaking on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM Thursday, Rev. Prof. Sagoe said despite Ghana having the standard equipment to investigate such phenomena, health experts must not hesitate to seek international support if it becomes necessary.
“I suspect they are not finding anything…so they may continue testing and testing until the clinical samples get finished,” he told host of the Show, Kojo Yankson.
He said the outbreak could either be the result of an emerging disease which may not be known to health officials or the re-emergence of an earlier disease but in another form which therefore demands multiple approaches in detecting and managing its spread.
“Even if it is something they have not seen before there are ways in the laboratory in which we could identify the organinsm. It may mean that we may need outside help,” he stressed.
Rev. Prof. Sagoe also advised health officials to trace all students who have gone home, to reduce a further spread proposing that families of students living outside Kumasi should be put under constant surveillance to keep the spread of the strange disease under control.
He further said the nation should put itself in readiness to “prevent those working at the clinics from taking anything home.”
“My key thing now is constricting the contact and monitoring them for a while to make sure…that nothing new is going to surprise us,” Rev. Prof. stated while urging periodic stakeholder engagements to keep health officials abreast with current developments.
“This raises an issue that we should probably occasionally have stakeholder meetings on issues, not to wait for problems to come, but we can have stakeholder meeting on issues…so that even though people are not directly working on those diseases, they may be abreast of what may be happening across all the ministries…”
According to him, “Every little detail of what has happened is of extreme importance to be able to understand the big picture…”
“Especially if it may be a new thing that we are seeing then we would have known how to contain it because if you don’t understand clearly what the pattern is you cannot put in measures to prevent transmission,” he advised.