Main content area

Current meningitis outbreak in Ghana: Historical perspectives and the importance of diagnostics

Kwarteng, Alexander, Amuasi, John, Annan, Augustina, Ahuno, Samuel, Opare, David, Nagel, Michael, Vinnemeier, Christof, May, Jürgen, Owusu-Dabo, Ellis
Acta tropica 2017 v.169 pp. 51-56
brain damage, diagnostic techniques, disease outbreaks, health services, herd immunity, meningitis, mortality, stakeholders, vaccination, Ghana
Bacterial meningitis continues to be one of the most dreaded infections in sub-Saharan Africa and other countries that fall in the “meningitis belt” due to recurrent nature of the infection and the sequel of deliberating effects among survivors even after treatment. Ghana has had recurrent epidemics in the past but has been free from high mortality levels. Whereas reasons for the low reported number of deaths in the past are unclear, we hypothesize that it may be due to increased vaccination from expanded program on immunization (EPI) and consequent herd immunity of the general population. As at the end of February, 2016, 100 individuals were reported to have died out of 500 recorded cases. The infection may cause severe brain damage and kills at least 1 out of 10 individuals if quick interventions are not provided. The Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Ministry of Health (MoH), together with other local and international stakeholders are working intensely to control the spread of the infection in affected communities with treatment and other health management programmes. This review presents a quick overview of meningitis in Ghana with emphasis on S. pneumoniae (responsible for about 70% of cases in the recent epidemic) together with some recommendations aimed at ensuring a “meningitis-free Ghana”.