A Medical Emergency Situation

Kumasi Academy

The inexplicable fatalities at the Kumasi Academy call for a more serious action than we have seen so far especially if the causative agent is viral.

We do not seek to downplay what has been done so far and continues to be done. Indeed we salute the wisdom in not releasing the students to go home under the circumstances and even administering an antibiotic as an initial response as such students are observed in confinement.

Releasing the students to go home under the pressure of parents could have led to the spread of whatever is the causative agent in Kumasi and transforming it into a national challenge.

For now confining it to the four walls of the school and stopping day students from coming for classes until the challenge is identified and eliminated warrant commendation.

The relevant authorities should move the notch above two levels because we are still groping in the dark yet and coming into direct contact with infected persons. The picture of a teacher carrying an infected student on his shoulder speaks volumes about the risks being taken.

We pray that direct contact with infected persons is not a means of transmission otherwise we should be ready for an escalation of the health challenge.

It is heartwarming that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has moved in to assist in ascertaining what is happening.

Considering the state of the health challenge, we must go beyond the Noguchi Memorial Institute For Scientific Research (NMISR) where so far nothing has emerged in the direction of the cause of death.

In the face of a close to a dozen deaths occasioned by an unknown disease, there is no reason we should not be worried.

In as much as our health authorities have done their best to establish the cause of death to no avail, it is our position that they should have applied a Plan B option which for us is taking one of the victims to South Africa or elsewhere for a more detailed examination of the situation or even samples of the necessary body fluids of the victims.

Our reaction when the second, third and even fourth person died leaves much to be desired given the Sierra Leonean experience. The spirituality of our being is very important and we would be the last persons to marginalize the importance of prayers. We however state that under the current circumstances, a scientific approach is all we need to unearth what is happening and to apply the necessary responses. All-night prayers can only support these time-tested approaches to such health emergencies.

We might be having a very dangerous situation in our hand. Should the cause of the infection and deaths be virus-related, are we not being reckless in the way we are handling the infected persons and even the dead from the unknown disease?

We have heard about the symptoms of the yet-to-be-established disease and are unable to suppress the fear of a lurking killer virus on the loose.

Until we are certain about what is killing the students, caution should be the watchword in the manner we are handling suspected cases of the disease.

In 1908, Accra was struck by a bubonic plague which killed so many people. Those who touched corpses of victims of the plague and even partook in their burials died soon after. The response from the colonial authorities was swift as they quickly established the cause of the epidemic. Residents in some parts of Accra, archival records indicate, were barred from going beyond their areas as a response. Eventually the disease which started with an unusual death of mice around the Christiansborg Castle was brought under control.