Health Alert Yellow fever epidemic. Ghana, 26 other African countries risk future outbreak – WHO


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has named Ghana among 27 countries in Africa at high risk of having an outbreak of yellow fever in the near future.

This is due to the fact that the country had become part of the world’s most travelled to countries on the continent, a factor that could likely trigger the spread of the disease.

This was disclosed by Dr Sally-Ann Ohene, Disease Prevention and Control Officer, WHO, at a Yellow Fever symposium organised by the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) in Accra on Tuesday.

The symposium was part of the 40th anniversary celebration of the institute which was on the theme “Yellow fever elimination: What is new?”

According to Dr Ohene, for Ghana to effectively fight the disease there was the need to improve vaccination coverage at high risk areas while ensuring that there was a stock pile of vaccines easily available.

She was also of the view that adequate measures at the various points of entries to the country would help curb the spread of the disease.

Dr Samuel Kweku Dadzie of the Department of Parasitology at NMIMR, mentioned drivers including urbanisation, globalisation, and demographic changes such as deforestation with the biggest, aedes aegypti mosquitoes as contributors to the spread of yellow fever.

To control the spread of the mosquitoes, Dr Dadzie urged Ghanaians to practise personal protection and the use of insecticides indicating the “need to build strong inter regional capacity and enhance research surveillance into the disease.”   

He noted that the global threat of the disease was real envisaging that “in the next couple of years there may be an outbreak in some African countries if precautions are not heeded to.”

Touching on the Yellow fever initiative outlined to tackle the disease, the Director of NMIMR, Dr Abraham Kwabena Annang said his outfit had developed a simple tool known as the netted ring to control the spread of aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

Expected to be rolled out in November this year, he said the netted ring looked like the shower cap that women often used on their hair such that “due to its elastic manner, it can be used to cover water drums and barrels to prevent the laying of eggs into open water to breed mosquitoes.”

Dr Annang said the institute would also mobilise resources to improve on vaccines used in preventing the disease and also conduct research to strengthen community actions and commitment in the fight against the disease.

The initiative, according to Dr Annang, was important because “yellow fever has lost its fear factor and that because it was less severe, we are less afraid and that is why we had become more complacent in dealing with it.”


BY ABIGAIL ANNOH

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