A suspected case of meningitis has claimed the third final year student at the Upper East Region; this time, a Zuarungu SHS student. Recall that two other final year students had died of what is also suspected to be meningitis last week at the Bawku and Tempane Senior High Schools respectively. So many other students from these schools are also reported to be currently on admission over similar illnesses.
The latest Zuarungu SHS student’s death brings to 7 the number of senior high school students whose lives have been claimed by the recent spread of diseases ranging from meningitis to swine flu in less than one month – 4 at the Kumasi Academy, 1 at Koforidua SECTECH, 1 at Damongo SHS and now this one at Zuarungu SHS.
The deceased, 19-year-old Rukaya Ibrahimah, a General Arts student was reported to have complained of head and neck aches on Friday, 15th December. According to Rukaya’s close friend, Munira Karim who spoke to Starr News, she accompanied the deceased to the regional hospital where she was given some malaria drugs which they later discovered were expired. Her condition had worsened, leading to her being admitted at the hospital on Saturday.
Late Rukaya’s elder brother who also spoke to the media bemoaned the hospital’s failure to carry out the necessary tests on his sister since she was brought to the hospital despite the fact that they indicated that her case is suspected to be meningitis. As at the time of Rukaya’s death on Sunday, tests were still being conducted on the blood samples collected while she was still alive. Results will now only be used to establish the cause of her death instead of being used to save her life! Quite unfortunate.
While late Rukaya Ibrahima’s remains has been deposited at the morgue, five other students of the school are currently on admission at the hospital for similar illnesses, with three of them said to be in critical conditions.
Recent Spread of Meningitis in Schools – Major Causes
Overpopulation and congestion at both classrooms and dormitories have been identified among other factors as the major cause of the recent spread of meningitis and other diseases in high schools across the country.
Some of the Zuarungu SHS students who spoke to Starr News on Sunday, complained bitterly about overcrowding in their dorms. One of the students lamented that a hall meant to accommodate 32 students is now forced to house more than double the number, about 70, since one bed is now assigned to two students with a few others sleeping on the floor. She also said that many of them are forced to sleep outside during the hot weather. The student’s claims were substantiated by the fact that their chop boxes were seen lined up outside at the hostel’s corridor due to lack of space inside.
Dr. Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe, Head of Disease and Surveillance Unit off the Ghana Health Service, recently emphasized how congestion escalates the risk of meningitis spread. According to him, there is a possibility of an infected person to transfer the disease to another person who is one meter apart.
It has also been noted that despite the fact that cases of meningitis and other contagious diseases have been recorded in the past at some high schools, the recent outrageous development is brought about by the newly introduced free senior high school education. It was observed that the free education program outrageously increased the number of students admitted this academic session, leading to population explosion at public senior high schools across the country
Stakeholders have therefore called on the government and concerned bodies to see to the decongestion of the affected senior high schools, and in addition, provide well equipped sick bay at the schools to curb the menace.
Our condolences to the bereaved families, and may the souls of the departed rest in peace.