The Ghana Medical Association (GMA), has expressed its displeasure with the fact that President Nana Akufo-Addo and many others, put themselves at risk of swine flu from the Kumasi Academy (KUMACA) in the Ashanti Region.
Indications are that, students in the school may have contracted the virus at the time of the President’s visit to the school on Saturday, December 2.
The GMA, in a statement said: “We condemn the manner in which the life of the President of the Republic, H.E. Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo and other citizens, were endangered by their visit to the school without the necessary measures being instituted.
It stressed that “due diligence should be done at all times including consultations with all needed professionals in subsequent events of this nature to forestall any future occurrence.”
At least two students had died before December 2, before it emerged that the deaths may have been caused by the H1N1 pandemic strain of Influenza, also known as swine flu.
The virus was however confirmed in other students who were hospitalized after the testing of samples at the Noguchi Memorial Centre.
There has been some suggestion of negligence on the part of the Kumasi Academy leadership, with a bereaved family threatening a lawsuit after accusing the school of brushing the illnesses under the carpet because of its 60th-anniversary celebrations.
The bereaved family said the authorities failed to take proper care of students who fell sick, but rather concentrated on activities to mark the anniversary.
Health officials in the Ashanti Region have since said they have contained the spread of the swine flu.
The Association expressed further concern with the country’s emergency preparedness, and noted that “the inadequate supply of personal protective equipment and other medical logistics needs to be improved.”
Of concern to the GMA is also the public engagement on the various outbreaks, which it said must adhere to protocols so as to avoid fueling panic.
“Politicians and the media should be circumspect in the handling of technical issues, and allow professionals to, as much as possible, handle such matters. The communication of conflicting positions during such emergencies fuels panic and unnecessary anxiety in the public and this hampers scientific work.”
As the death count of students in senior high schools nationwide rises to at least eight, with many being hospitalized, the Ghana Medical Association has called for the setting up of two infectious disease centres.
In its first comments on the escalating health concerns in the senior high schools, the Association also called for better links between schools and health facilities.
“We reiterate our previous call to the government for the setting up of at least 2 national infectious disease centres – one in the southern sector, and the other in the northern sector to facilitate prompt diagnosis, service delivery, research and teaching.”
“The linkage of the school health system to specified facilities must be strengthened, the statement added.
Aside from the suspected outbreak of swine flu at Kumasi Academy in the Ashanti Region where four students died, a death from meningitis was recorded at the Koforidua Secondary Technical School in the Eastern Region.
Another meningitis death was noted at the Damango Senior Hich School in the Northern Region from meningitis.
The latest death has been recorded at the Bawku Secondary Technical School, also from meningitis.
A final year student of the Kpone Community Senior High School in the Kpone-Katamanso District of the Greater Accra Region, has also been reported dead but the cause is unconfirmed.