Saturday, April 11, 2010
GHANAIANS have been told not to panic over the presence of the H1N1 influenza in country, but need to heed professional advice to prevent its further spread.
At press a conference in Accra yesterday, the Minister of Health, Dr Benjamin Kunbour, said preparation for the deployment of vaccine was underway in accordance with the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and called on Ghanaians to take the necessary precautionary measures now that there were no vaccines to protect them.
He said the H1N1 influenza had now spread to all continents and other several countries including Ghana, adding that it was declared “phase 6 pandemic” by the WHO on June 11, 2009.
Considering the harm which the influenza had caused in other countries, Dr Kunbour noted that a National Strategic Plan set up by the health sector at the onset of the outbreak of the disease in August 2009 seemed to have helped to contain the situation to a large extent.
He said with no single death being recorded, all the 513 cases which had so far been confirmed had been mild and majority of them successfully managed at homes.
He attributed the current situation partly to ”Intensification of surveillance (passive and active) for early detection of cases and general monitoring of the situation,” adding that staff in all health facilities were being directed to collect and transport specimen from suspected cases to Noguchi for laboratory confirmation.
He said all regions of the country apart from Brong Ahafo, Upper East, Upper West and the Volta regions had recorded cases of the influenza.
Dr Kunbour said the most important thing to do under the circumstance was for each Ghanaian to cultivate the habit of frequent hand washing with soap and also report immediately to the nearest health facility for treatment if one suffered from any of the symptoms of influenza.
He said the country had in store adequate medicines and stressed that there were supplies at both the regional and district health stores for the treatment of cases.
He maintained that now that there were local transmission unlike in the early stages where infections involved contact with people from outside the country, it had become important for people to seriously take precautionary measures to protect themselves and others from the virus.
He said the National Strategic Plan, which involved various committees, had embarked on public education through the media and also organised seminars, workshops, fro, educational talks, as well as distribution of flyers and posters to the public.
For his part, the Director of Public Health, Dr Joseph Amankwah, said treatment of the disease was free in all public health facilities and encouraged those who presented symptoms of influenza which included fever, headache, bodily pains, shortness of breathe, coughing, sneezing and at times vomiting and diarrhoea to report to their doctors.
He reiterated that the situation was not alarming, since the health authorities were monitoring the situation seriously.
He also added that Ghana was fortunate to have a WHO-accredited laboratory centre at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) where all cases could be tested.