Inadequate Medical Facilities May Mar Fight Against Meningitis in TarabaState News, Taraba Saturday, April 14th, 2012
INADEQUATE medical facilities and data may mar the efforts of the Taraba State government to curtail the outbreak of meningitis in the state. Seventy-eight cases of meningitis have been reported to the Taraba State Ministry of Health and five deaths recorded as at Wednesday. However, only one case has been medically confirmed to be meningitis in the 10 out of 16 local governments of the state. Speaking in his office in Jalingo, the state capital on the killer disease, Dr. Ebenezer Apaku, Director of Primary Health Care and Disease Control, said most of the cases involve people living in the remote areas of the state without access to adequate medical facilities.
“The airborne disease usually occurs all year round but during the dry or hot season, the prevalence is high. The level of surveillance is also high.
“We also need to confirm the strain of the bacteria. This is important to give the right vaccination. If you give the wrong vaccine, you will not be helping the patients. But from the isolated cases we are having, it has not reached the threshold of epidemic now,” he said.
Apaku disclosed that it is the policy of the Federal Ministry of Health with the advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that once the threshold of epidemic for meningitis has not been reached, there is no need to vaccinate the affected community. But he did not say at what point the threshold will be reached.
The Medical Director of Zing General Hospital, Emmanuel Ocheme corroborated the fact that meningitis is usually on the prowl in the state during the hot season.
“So far, we have one unconfirmed case of meningitis in the hospital. We have taken the cerebrospinal fluid of the patient for laboratory test in Jalingo.
“I don’t determine the turn around time. But the effect of the delay is that we may not be able to confirm the actual cause of illness before the patient is discharged,” he said.
He called on the government to expedite action to ensure early results of tests of patients suspected to have meningitis. “Also for record purposes, it is better to have early results from the laboratory. Although it can affect anybody, children under the ages of 15 are most vulnerable. One of the major challenges for patients is inability to buy drugs,” he said.
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