Four students of Kumasi Academy dropped dead just within a period of fifteen days, and all sorts of explanations have been given to the strange deaths…
Speculations have been ongoing as to the cause of the death of four students of KUMACA which many deemed ‘mysterious’ due to the nature of the deaths. Among the very many guessed causes of the deaths is that of food poisoning which received wide acceptance since the students allegedly suffered similar sicknesses before giving up the ghost. But the school authority refuted such claims, explaining that the thousands of healthy students in the dormitories have all been eating the same meals.
However, the public were urged by the concerned bodies to hold their peace as the exact cause of the deaths can only be established through proper investigations, especially an autopsy. After several days of investigations, the Ghana Health Service in the Ashanti region released the report which revealed that the deceased students died of meningitis.
The Ashanti regional minister, Simon Osei Mensah who read out the postmortem report in a media conference held at the Kumasi Academy premises on Wednesday, said that a thorough research was done to arrive at the conclusion. Mr. Mensah indicated that cause of the death was established through the collaborative efforts of the Ghana Health Services at the district, regional and national levels, together with an experienced colleague from the Komfo Anokye teaching hospital and the school of Medical Sciences.
Per the results of the investigations, 26 suspected cases with 4 deaths have been recorded. Three of the affected students are still recuperating at the hospital and are said to be responding to treatment while 19 others have since been discharged.
Continuing, the Regional Minister indicated that “a detailed investigation has been established to put in place appropriate methods to contain the situation. Authorities of the Kumasi Academy are also taking measures to decongest some of the dormitories to prevent the spread of the disease. He however stated that no new case has been recorded since after the last death which occurred on the 31st of March.
He also assured that they will keep a close watch on the situation to see that any suspected case is detected and managed as early as possible. To ensure that this is done, the Minister said that, together with the Regional Directorate of Health, they are assigning hospitals to every Senior High Schools, embarking on massive awareness of the general public on Meningitis and other epidemic prone conditions, intensifying surveillance at all levels and straightening collaboration between GES and GHS.
He further explained that the extreme hot weather condition being experienced in the region lately might be a contributory factor to the disease. Mr. Osei Mensah noted that feverish condition and headache, neck pains, neck stiffness, convulsion, vomiting, and bulging anterior fontanelle (for children under one year), are some of the symptoms of the disease. He therefore urged the public to avoid overcrowding, as well as coughing and sneezing by infected persons, adding that they should drink a lot of water, eat fluids and report to the nearest hospital if they see any of the symptoms.
Mr. Mensah also allayed the fears of people, who are already speculating a meningitis epidermic in the country. According to him, one case of meningitis does not constitute an outbreak while pointing out that enhanced surveillance is required to prevent additional cases.
His assertion was substantiated by the Ashanti Regional Director of Health, Dr Alexis Beifubah, who explained that although reported cases of more than 10 could be described as an outbreak, there is a threshold to determine that. According to Beifubah, one could only describe a disease as an outbreak if there were 10 recorded cases per 100,000 population.
Meningitis outbreak in Ghana was experienced early last year (2016), with over 500 cases recorded out of which almost 100 passed on. However, the situation was declared contained by the Health Ministry after some necessary steps such as series of immunization and sensitization programmes were taken.
Meningitis is characterized by the inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord, which is caused in Ghana by viruses such as pneumococcal, Neisseria meningitides and homophile influenza type B. Symptoms of the disease include fever, persistent headache, stiff neck and altered consciousness, etc., and could be passed from one person to another through coughing, sneezing and close contact.
Four students of the Kumasi Academy (KUMACA), located in the Asokore-Mampong municipality of the Ashanti Regional capital, reportedly died between the 22nd and 31st of March 2017, after suffering from similar illnesses. It was reported that each of the four students were granted leave to go home when they took ill, but never returned as they died at the various health facilities in the region where they went to receive medical attention.
After the last death on Friday March 31, involving a form one male student, parents and guardians became fear-stricken and as a result, thronged the school premises that night, demanding the release of their children and wards. The students on their own part, also staged a protest, damaging some school properties.
The violent agitations were only calmed down with the help of policemen from the Manhyia Divisional Command. Worse still, some more students fell ill and were admitted at the hospital. Owing to the development, the school management reportedly allowed students who wish to go home to do so, excluding final year students who are currently sitting for the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE).
Kumasi Academy is one of the highly rated public senior high schools in Ghana. The school which was founded in the 1957 by the American Baptist Missionary Union, has a population of over 2,500 students. Known for excellence in academic performances and other activities, KUMACA has produced thousands of graduates who are always found occupying positions of prominence in Ghana and beyond.