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General News Sat, 5 Mar 2005

WHO official calls for surveillance on yellow fever

Accra, March 5, GNA - Dr Harry Opata, Professional Officer, Disease Prevention and Control Unit of the World Health Organisation, on Friday cautioned that, an outbreak of yellow fever in the country could be devastating, if surveillance on the disease was not increased. Yellow fever, he said, was more deadly than malaria but unfortunately people only got vaccinated against it when they were travelling.

Latest cases of yellow fever outbreak were recorded at Jirapa-Lambusi in the Upper West Region in December last year and in Upper Denkyira District in the Central Region last January. Dr Opata, who was speaking at a forum to mark the Second Annual Scientific Forum organized by the Korle-Bu Medical Laboratory Technology Students Association in Accra called for regular vaccination at least once every 10 years for frequent travellers and people living in forest areas.

The theme for the forum was: "The Role Of The Medical Laboratory Scientist in Active Surveillance of Yellow Fever in Ghana." Dr Opata urged laboratory technicians to go the extra mile and look beyond what doctors recommended to make the surveillance on diseases, especially yellow fever, effective and help in the promotion of life saving actions to arrest such situations.

Dr Lawson Ahiadze, Head, National Surveillance Unit of the Ghana Health Service, said yellow fever was caused by mosquito. Symptoms of the disease include fever at 39 degrees Celsius followed by jaundice, dehydration and vomiting.

Dr Ahiadze explained that yellow fever was an acute viral infection and was not transmitted from person-to-person. An outbreak is likely to occur at areas that had once recorded the disease.

He said it was very important for at least every district to report suspected cases of the disease to enable the country to have an effective surveillance system.

"If this happens, an outbreak would not take us by surprise", he said.

He recommended routine immunization, mass catch up campaigns, sensitisation by clinicians and other health workers to supervise and monitor the disease.

Source: GNA