Friday, February 25, 2011

GHS holds crisis meeting on cholera outbreak

CHOLERA cases recorded over the last six months in three regions have risen to 1,396, claiming the lives of 34. The regions are the Greater Accra, Central and Eastern.
To bring the outbreak under control, a strategic meeting was held by top officials of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and other stakeholders in Accra yesterday to plot out technical details of a national response to the epidemic.
Health officials have predicted that the incidence of the disease and the death toll could increase, especially with the onset of the rains.
Present at the meeting were the Director-General of the GHS, Dr Elias Sory, and the Director of Public Health, Dr Joseph Amankwah.
Officials from other ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) who formed a national technical co-ordinating committee on the disease, however, failed to attend the meeting.
The officials of stakeholder organisations who were supposed to attend the meeting but failed were from the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the Ministry of Information, the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and the Ghana Education Office (GHS).
In his presentation, Dr Emmanuel K. Dzotsi of the Disease Surveillance Department of the GHS said about 21 districts had so far reported cases, adding that “the outbreak is not under control”.
He gave the breakdown as six districts in the Eastern Region, six in the Central Region as well as the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and all the other districts in the Greater Accra Region.
Dr Dzotsi stated that the first case in the current cholera outbreak was recorded in the Central Region in September 2010, adding that so far 18 people had died of the disease in that region.
He said that was followed by the Eastern Region with three deaths and then the Greater Accra Region where 13 deaths had been recorded.
He explained that there were widespread cases and raised the issue of inadequate isolation wards for case management as a challenge.
He also said the possibility of the disease spreading to other regions and districts was high and pointed out that risk factors pertained in areas where there were poor environmental hygiene and inadequate safe water.
Dr Dzotsi called for enhanced diarrhoea surveillance, improved case management, the intensification of public education, community involvement, among other measures.
For his part, the Deputy Director of Public Health at the Greater Accra Regional Health Directorate, Dr Edward Antwi, said the interventions being used by the directorate included press releases, inter-agency meetings, the provision of case management protocols/training of health staff, the supply of logistics for the management of cases and health promotional activities in various media houses.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Give cholera national attention — Dr Nortey

THE Head of the Korle-Bu Polyclinic, Dr David Nii Narh Nortey, has called for a national response to the cholera outbreak, since the disease seems to be assuming an alarming rate.
In an answer to a question at this year’s annual performance review meeting held by the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra yesterday, Dr Nortey said the epidemic seemed not to subside and, therefore, called for a national approach to it.
He said the polyclinic alone had, since January 2011, taken care of 322 cases, with four deaths, adding that the polyclinic expected more patients, since the problem had not ended.
In his welcoming address at the review meeting, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Professor Nii Otu Nartey, told participants that many of the directors of the hospital were in a meeting over the outbreak of the disease, for which reason they would be late for the review meeting.
He called on the media to intensify education on the disease to stop its spread, since it was deadly.
Prof Nartey, however, pointed out that the best approach under the circumstance was prevention, since the disease could claim the life of an infected person if he or she delayed in getting health care.
Earlier this month, an increase in the reported cases of cholera in the Greater Accra Region prompted the Regional Health Directorate of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to reiterate its warning to residents to observe personal hygiene and also adhere to advice provided by health professionals to curb the outbreak in the region.
In an interview, the Deputy Greater Accra Regional Director of Public Health, Dr Edward Antwi, said, “Although there is an outbreak, it is possible not to get infected,” and advised residents that in case of diarrhoea and or vomiting, the affected person should rush to the nearest healthcare facility for treatment which was free.
Cholera is an acute bacterial disease characterised by profuse diarrhoea and vomiting. Its incubation period is about a minimum of two to 48 hours and a maximum of two to three days.

NHIA launches new medicines list

THE National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) yesterday launched a new medicines list to serve as a guide to service providers under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
The list, which will come into effect from March 1, 2011, contains 552 different medicines that could treat about 95 per cent of disease conditions in Ghana.
At the launching ceremony in Accra, the Minister of Health, Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, said there had been new additions to the existing list to improve the quality of health of the people.
He mentioned some beneficial medicines which had been added to the new list as sulfadoxine+ pyrimethamine tablets 525 mg for the prevention of malaria in pregnancy and zinc tablets for the treatment of diarrhoea in children.
The inclusion of the two medicines is to help in the country’s drive towards achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5.
Mr Chireh, who himself is a pharmacist, explained that the medicines list was to serve as a guideline to prescribers so that they would not over-subscribe, a situation he said could be harmful and also confuse patients.
He added that the provision of the list was not to make the work of prescribers difficult but rather improve quality to health care, promote rational use of medicines and contain cost to the NHIS.
In his presentation, the Director of Research at the NHIA, Mr O. B. Acheampong, indicated that as the list had new additions, some of the medicines had been excluded because there were other sources under which users could benefit.
He mentioned such medicines to include those for childhood immunisation, for the treatment of tuberculosis (TB), child delivery care and also for mental health care.
He also indicated that anaesthetic medicine had also been exempted from the list, since it was to be added to the tariffs to be charged by providers.
He stated that the list was based on World Health Organisation (WHO) standards, adding that the work was done with all stakeholders who worked within the NHIS.
In his welcome address, the Chief Executive of the NHIA, Mr Sylvester Mensah, apologised for the delay in coming up with the list and gave an assurance that the next one would be prepared on time.
The chairperson for the occasion, who is also a member of the NHIA board, Mrs Czarina Ribeiro, talked about the importance of the medicines list and advised that service providers should work with it to ensure efficient healthcare delivery.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cholera outbreak in Greater Accra-Residents advised to observe personal hygiene

THE increase in the reported cases of cholera in the Greater Accra Region has prompted the Health Directorate of Ghana Health Service (GHS) to reiterate its warning to residents to observe personal hygiene and also adhere to advice provided by health professionals to curb the cholera outbreak region.
That is because the number of cases seem to be increasing since the first case was reported on January, 10, 2011. Reports from the health sector indicates that cases have been reported from all the districts within the region with the Accra Metropolis (AMA) having the highest number.
In an interview, the Deputy Regional Director of Public Health, Dr Edward Antwi said so far four people had been confirmed dead and more than 200 had contracted the disease.
He said that had made health workers in the region to stem up their educational programme to prevent more people from being infected adding that “although there is an outbreak, it is possible not to get infected”.
Dr Antwi has, however, advised residents that in case of diarrhoea and or vomiting, the affected person should rush to the nearest healthcare facility for treatment which was free.
Cholera is an acute bacterial disease characterised by profuse diarrhoea and vomiting. Incubation period is about a minimum of two to 48 hours and a maximum of two to three days.
Asked to explain what the health sector was doing to curb the spread of the disease, Dr Antwi said there had been several press releases to encourage the media to support in public education campaign.
In addition, he said there had been stakeholders meetings to find solution to the outbreak and said health facilities in the region were well prepared in readiness to receive and treat all cholera cases.
He, however, pointed out that the best approach under the circumstance was prevention, since the disease could claim the life of an infected person before he or she could access healthcare.
A statement from the directorate and signed by the Head of the Regional Health Promotion Unit, Ms Honesty Numetu mentioned risk factors for the disease as over-populated communities characterised by poor sanitation, unsafe drinking water and increase person-to-person transmission.
Other risk factors are poor personal hygiene, floods leading to contaminated domestic water sources and broken down water and waste disposal system.
It indicated that one could get cholera through eating food that contained cholera germs, eating fruits and vegetables, especially those grown by irrigation with waste water and also when fruits and vegetables are eaten raw and not properly washed.
Other mode of transmission, according to the statement, were drinking water contaminated with cholera germs, attending to a person with the cholera disease and not washing hands properly with soap and water.
“Handling cholera corpse, touching materials or objects that contain the germ, house flies carrying the germ from infected stool which is not properly disposed off. If hands are not properly washed before eating, cooking, after visiting toilet and attending to someone who has the disease, are all risk factors”, it indicated.
Signs and symptoms of cholera are sudden onset of profuse painless watery diarrhoea, occasional effortless vomiting, rapid dehydration, severe muscle cramps, weak pulse, cold clammy skin, thirst and stupor.
“In case of diarrhoea and or vomiting, immediately rush to a hospital for treatment. Treatment for cholera is free,” the statement pointed out.

*Unhealthy practice such as selling food close to refuse dumps is a risk factor for the spread of cholera

“Don’t sell ACTs drugs above recommended price” (Graphic Business)

Tuesday, Feb.1, 2011

THE National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) has issued a stern warning to facilities which sell the Global Fund subsidised artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) for the treatment of malaria at exorbitant price to desist from it.
The medicine which has a logo of a green leaf is said to be selling illegally between GH¢10 and GH¢12 instead of the recommended price of between GH¢1 to GH¢1.50p.
Speaking at a media briefing in Accra organised by the Johns Hopkins University Centre for Communications Study under it Voices for Malaria Free in Africa Programme, the Programme Manager of the NMCP, Dr (Mrs) Constance Bart-Plange said, the Global Fund was subsidising the cost of the drug under its Affordable Medicines Facility – malaria (AMFm) programme and therefore should not be sold above the recommended price.
The Affordable Medicines Facility – malaria (AMFm) is an innovative financing mechanism designed to expand access to the most effective treatment for malaria, artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs).
The AMFm is a new line of business hosted and managed by the Global Fund and financial support for the initiative come from UNITAID, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and other donors. The Roll Back Malaria Partnership will continue in its important role as a partner to the Affordable Medicines Facility – malaria.
The AMFm aims to enable countries to increase the provision of affordable ACTs through the public, private and non-governmental organisation (NGO) sectors. This will save lives and reduce the use of less-effective treatments to which malaria parasites are becoming increasingly resistant. It will also reduce the use of artemisinin as a single treatment or mono-therapy, thereby delaying the onset of resistance to that drug and preserving its effectiveness.
To achieve this aim, the Global Fund, as host and manager of the AMFm, has negotiated with drug manufacturers to reduce the price of ACTs, and to require that sales prices must be the same for both public and private sector first-line buyers.
Private importers now pay up to 80 per cent less than they did in 2008 and 2009. The Global Fund pays most of this reduced price (a ‘buyer co-payment’) directly to manufacturers to further lower the cost to eligible first-line buyers of ACTs purchased from manufacturers.
This means that first-line buyers only pay the remainder of the sales price for the ACTs. First-line buyers are expected to pass on the highest possible proportion of this price benefit so that patients are able to buy ACTs across the public, private, not-for-profit and for-profit sectors at prices that are less than those of oral artemisinin mono-therapies.
AMFm Phase 1 is being implemented through nine pilots in eight countries: Cambodia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania (including Zanzibar) and Uganda. Following the Global Fund Board’s decisions on successful applications to Phase 1 in November 2009, grant amendments or new grant agreements have been signed with most AMFm Phase 1 countries and implementation has started in several countries. The first co-paid ACTs were delivered to Ghana and Kenya in August 2010.
The WHO Country Advisor on Malaria in Ghana, Dr Felicia Owusu-Antwi at a media briefing said the GPARC plan was to protect Artemisinin Combination Therapies (ACTs) as an effective treatment for malaria.
She said ACTs were anti-malarial combination therapy with an artemisinin derivative as a component which act simultaneously and independently with an aim to improve efficacy as well as retard the development of resistance to individual components of the combination.
The plan of the GPARC was to mobilise global and local stakeholders for the containment and ultimate elimination of artemisinin resistance where it has emerged and also for the prevention of it emergence in or spread to new localities.