NUGS releases Preliminary Reports on their Nationwide SHS Outreach on meningitis & swine flu, and makes recommendations as schools resume from vacation.

The Preliminary Findings & Interim Recommendations on the NUGS & NAHSAG Emergency Nationwide Outreach Against Spread of Swineflu & Meningitis (N.E.I.P FluMen) Based on Reports Received from Over 200 Volunteers Across Ghana as at January 2018

Following the outbreaks within some Senior High Schools, NUGS and it’s health bloc NAHSAG embarked on a nationwide campaign exercise in aid to curbing the outbreak and preventing it’s subsequent occurrence. This campaign is of two phases; emergency phase1 and emergency phase 2. Emergency phase 1 is of “Community Entry” and data collection to establish rapport with managements and take stock of various logistics and sanitation conditions as indicated in the checklist. The phase2 of the exercise will make provisions of logistics and items needed to help solve pressing problems as reported and also a health education of students and staff. Phase2 would as well ensure provision of some medications medical equipment and personnel as may be needed to such schools that may be in need of same.

As scheduled, the emergency outreach exercise commenced on Wednesday, 20th December, 2017 with over 86 volunteers dispatched to various Senior High Schools across the country. The numbers multiplied subsequently to over 200 as at 8th January, 2018.

4th January marked the resumption of the fact-finding journey after the festivity break. More volunteers are beginning their services to allotted SHS whilst others continue with their visits. It is worth noting that, the volunteers are working in teams and each team is visiting at least three schools in an enclave. Volunteers continue to carefully fill their questionnaires, among others, in consultation with school managements and health officials in various sickbays on campuses.

The Leadership of NUGS and NAHSAG have recorded lots of preliminary and on-the-side reports. After some mixed method collations, we present to the Ghanaian media, sector ministries, World Health Organization and other relevant body

The following common observations thus far from 50 senior high schools.

NB: These preliminary findings shall not in any way set a template for the outcome of the policy document or research and final report to be filed. The process is still ongoing and a full report shall be made available to the media, the Ministry of Heath, among other sector players, when detailed analysis of final data is done:     

Congestion in Some Dormitories

The problem of congestion runs through almost all the reports received from locations. The diagram attached gives our estimate after studying the preliminary report. This represent about 45 percent of the total 100 percent of the preliminary report:

In an unspecified room size, it was reported that the maximum student in a dormitory was about 50 and an average of 40 as minimum. In recorded tapes with some students, they concede to the pressure in their dormitories due to their numbers.

We reported of an isolated case in Tema Senior High School however for instance, at the girls’ dormitory, a new dormitory under construction, according to the students is saving them from the universal problem of congestion. Some students in other schools also restored to sleeping outside on verandas.

Under-resourced Sickbays | No Sickbays

“I suggest there should be a sickbay in the school. There is a room for that but there are no personnel and items”, a delegation to one of the Senior High Schools stated on the questionnaire.

Some schools visited lacked sickbays. Those that had, didn’t have the needed logistics; medications etc.

Some attendants in some schools were either not trained Health personnel or were few to handle the number of students on the campus.

Insect Infestation (Mosquito and Bed Bugs)

A universal problem. Common among them were mosquitoes and bed bugs. All reports thus far, indicates this development. This according to health professionals at post in the various sickbays visited, have resulted in many malaria cases.

A peculiar case was recorded at Hohoe Evangelical Presbyterian Senior High (HEPSS) in the Volta Region where the headmaster complained bitterly about the infestations of mosquitoes and bed bugs. They recorded the highest cases of malaria in the municipality.

In some schools, it was captured that cold, coughs and malaria are common cases brought by students.

Sanitation

Satisfactory remarks for the sanitation column on the checklists run through some of the statements of the health volunteers. Some gutters especially those in the campuses were well desilted, except for few around the schools. Rubbish containers were located distance from dormitories and at times outside the school. Some volunteers noted cases of over-flowing bins.

Satisfactory as some reported, however one major concern was the poor sanitation in their loos. One could spot algae on the surface of some lavatories. Some schools visited had the traditional form of water-closets – wooden foundation where they squat. The wooded nature made it looked rotten from the sogginess. Some schools like Sunyani Secondary lacked hand washing facilities for students despite a clean environment.

INTERIM RECOMMENDATIONS

Since Senior High Schools will reopen early this January by which time the outreach would have reached the Emergency Phase 2 and not the completion; also because the meningitis season is likely to thrive from now till March, it has become necessary we make the following urgent recommendations calling on the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Health; Health Service and Education Service, among relevant bodies to as a matter of urgency,  put measures in place to ensure the following to avert any of more such deaths:

CONGESTION: Some boarders should be made day-Student momentarily

In addressing overcrowding as situation as reported in majority of schools, it is recommended that the PTAs and sector players come to a consensus to in the interim make some student attend classes from home until the meningitis season is over. This will be feasible for students whose family stay closer to the various schools and especially be done for schools within the Brong-Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions who fall within the meningitis belt.

Also in the immediate long term, we urge Central Government to help put up more dormitories and move swiftly in addressing the congestion situation on the various campuses.

Under Resourced Sick bays: Post Health Officials to schools with sickbays as well as stock existing bays with requisite drugs to contain plausible emergencies 

Students spend most of their time on campus and therefore every campus must be treated as a community with enough provisions to safeguard their health.

It is strongly recommend that all sick bays be manned by enough qualified health professionals across the country in ensuring this.

We recommend a minimum of 15 Health Professionals to every 1000 student population with at least 1 medical Doctor designated for every campus.

The National Health Students of Ghana (NAHSAG) is ready to partner the Ghana Education Service and the Ghana Health Service or any other employment agency to make available qualified unemployed health graduates for postings to these sickbays

There should also be periodic training for these officials to master the containment measures for various emergency cases.

Fumigation of Dormitories & Beds

Management of Schools in collaboration with local health agencies should fumigate infested dormitories at least a week before students resume school. This will solve the problem of insect and bed bugs in most dormitories. Cleaning should be ensured especially at dometories and washrooms to create a congenial environment for students in the boarding houses and such cleanings should be conducted periodically.

Challenges So Far & Appeal for Support

Volunteers had few hindrances from some Heads of schools. Though some were solved and cleared to work there are talks with the Ghana Education Service (GES) to provide some rubric for volunteers.

We hereby continue to ask for support from the general public, organizations, corporate Ghana and philanthropists in order to sustain this data-collection project as we proceed to the Emergency Phase 2

Call to support or for more information:

Signed

Kabu Nartey                                      Frank Amoakoehene            Richard Osei-Yeboah 

NUGS General Secretary                   NUGS President                     NAHSAG President

0268751831                                        0240166445                            0243933028

Cc:

The Media:

The Ministry of Education

The Ministry of Health

The Ghana Education Service

The Ghana Health Service

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Education

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Health

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