The Head of Disease and Surveillance Unit at the Ghana Health Service has identified congestion at senior high schools (SHSs) as one risk factor for the spread of meningitis.
Dr Franklin Asiedu Bekoe told Evans Mensah on Joy FM’s Top Story Wednesday, the crowded nature of classrooms and dormitories at SHSs poses a challenge to students.
“If the pathogen is in your throat [and] so far as you are one meter apart the other person can get it,” he explained.
At least one student of the Bawku Senior High Technical School is reported dead from what health officials say is meningitis. Five others are on admission.
But Medical Director at the Bawku Presbyterian Hospital, Dr Clement Oppong has said three of the students have shown signs of meningitis.
Joy News’ Upper East Regional Correspondent, Albert Sore has reported the incident has caused panic, with parents thronging the school to demand the release of their children.
The tragic incident happened exactly a week after at least four students of Kumasi Academy (KUMACA) died from what has been confirmed as Influenza Type A (H1N1) known as swine flu.
Sections of Ghanaians have blamed the Free SHS educational policy rolled out in September for the congestions in the schools.
They claim the programme has aggravated the congestion situation, compelling school authorities to convert makeshift structures into classrooms and dormitories.
Although Dr Bekoe said the country has had cases of meningitis in the past, he believes the congestion in the schools has double the risk factor.
“Clearly the numbers in the classroom brings about a challenge,” he said.
But President of the Coalition of NGOs in Health, Gabriel Benarkuu has criticised the Ghana Health Service for “poorly” managing the situation since the first case was reported.
“It is a common knowledge that every year from April to October we see some of this things. What was put in place after the early warning sign in KUMACA?” he asked.