This year’s annual meeting on surveillance, preparedness and response to meningitis outbreaks in Africa and the 8th meeting of MenAfriNet Partners has been held in Ghana to prepare African countries in the meningitis belt to appropriately respond to any meningitis epidemic during the season.
The meeting, which aimed to strengthen collaboration between countries in the meningitis belt and implementing partners to improve the health of the people, was attended by African countries in the meningitis belt, which included Ghana, relevant representatives across different countries. They evaluated activities of the past epidemic season and also provided a strategic evidence-based approach for the next season.
In his opening address, the Minister for Health, Mr. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu expressed Ghana’s commitment to collaborate with governments, especially those in the meningitis belt and implementing partners to improve the health of children, men, women in Sub-Saharan Africa and strengthen the health system.
He described meningitis as a deadly debilitating disease with serious health, economic and social consequences, which remained a burden for countries in the meningitis belt. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, 9,975 suspected cases of meningitis including 541 deaths were reported by 20 out of 26 countries during the epidemic season.
He disclosed that real successes have been achieved in the fight against meningitis over the years. “To date, more than 300 people have been vaccinated in the meningitis belt of sub-Saharan Africa, the Minister added.
WHO Representative to Ghana, Dr Francis Kasalo, welcoming participants to the meeting said, the COVID-19 pandemic has taught the world that it is important to make health systems resilient so that essential services are not compromised while responding to shocks from public health emergencies.
The meeting, according to Dr Kasolo, would create an opportunity for participants to learn from other country experiences and best practices on how they prepared and responded to meningitis outbreaks in the past season.
“The information-sharing experiences will help to improve our collective efforts to prevent, detect and respond to meningitis outbreaks in the coming season as well as help all of us to embrace innovative ways in this response, he added.