Medical AdvocacyPatient SafetyPreventive Medicine

H1N1 Outbreak: Matters arising and why we need to up our game

Finally Finally – H1N1

I made up my mind not to write or comment publicly on the canker at the KUMACA until the cause is known. This was not because I have nothing to write or share by unfortunately we have a system that seem to pamper mediocrity and writing or sharing on preventive or proactive measures will not be much use now.

I was relieved when I read for the first time that the cause of the disease is discovered and is H1N1 2009. To many, especially families of affected students, to those exposed and the huge majority, it is a good news- even captioned same in one of the sites I read from.

But still there is a long way to go.

My first disgust was when my good friend Alexander Kwakye narrated the awful and ugly side of healthcare in  Ghana and in the first instance on the lack of laboratory infrastructure and protective accessories to care and find the cause of the disease and its menace.

Later, I had information that kits that where been used to investigate meningitis were substandard and were not appropriate for the job.  I also found out that initial samples that were taken to be sent to Nugichi were taken without following the standard operating procedures and hence where not suitable for analysis.

To worsen my concerns, was when the news break that there was going to be a vaccination at the school. It was obvious it is of no use. My first questions were “against what and for what?”. The first principle in a successful immunization is to know the antigen (the cause) and injecting the wrong vaccines will be of no use except to cool tempers of parents and the ill-informed society.

Finally, I discovered by discussion that a multi spectrum antibiotics where been used. To be specific ciprofloxacin was being used and the justification was that patients were responding to the treatment. But in my basic microbiology, I sensed that won’t work enough even if the outbreak was from meningitis though symptoms were not affirming same. In that case ceftriaxone or cefixime are recommendable.

The problem seemed out way our thinking but I don’t think so.

When are we going to be serious?

In a discussion, I discovered that many wanted to help but the system will not allow and makes is though for anybody to contribute their quota. There were labs that wanted to pick samples to investigate but the system will not allow. Protocol will never support an emergency and has taken us days if not months to discover H1N1 in a world of 21st century, where samples can rich research and reference labs in hours in most parts of the world.

Yes, we are a developing country but I don’t think is an excuse for mediocrity. We have to get serious with things that affect life directly. Things that destroy the beauty of God’s creature.

Poor reportage

One concern that was continuously commented on was the nature of reports we were reading and hearing. You will find many authorities cautioning media men and women to be circumspect about what they publish – not to cause fear and panic. But is this enough?

This brought to mind what Professor Wiredu, a pathologist, once communicate to me and my mates in one of our lectures when there was a news that fishermen were using formalin to preserve fishes. “By science it does not make sense to read this from the media”, he said. But where are the scientists in the media to communicate this better, he narrated. This is same happening today. No wander a gaenacologist will be called into a radio discussion on meningitis outbreak when there are numerous Microbiologists and Public health professionals all over the country.

The news anchor has no understanding of what he/she is sharing neither the panelist. Why wont they communicate fear and panic? Why wont they say what they have heard instead of the fact and the truth? Why is the media not investing in scientists and scientific journalism?

By this reasoning we decided to built a medical platform to communicate well on medical issues of these nature.

We are joking!!

I found myself siting in a bus today and this woman in all her ignorance will not keep quiet. If fact, the few elite in the bus will not also talk including me because once you talk, trying to debunk the myth, you are considered disrespectful for exchanging words with an elderly. She went on to say, the students are dying because the owners of the school went for juju whiles starting the school and ignored to send the gods what belong to them and hence now the gods are angry. My only reply was that, this school is not for anybody but the government, but she just answered me that maybe the headmaster went to the juju. So I just have to allow her. Funny it was by it just means we have a long way to go and we all have to beef-up our role.

H1N1 is not a joke but with proper surveillance, avoidance of diverging of funds, equipping and using the right professionals we can halt it to the core and will be a thing of the past.

Let me end here for my first comment for the second coming of H1N1 with the hope that the MoH and the GHS and with their agencies will be up to task.

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The Editorial takes care of op-ed articles from visiting writers or special release by the writers and editors of MedCircles.
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