GHANA – The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (UK-FCDO) are supporting the Government of Ghana to conduct a socio-ecological study on Marburg virus disease (MVD) to guard against future outbreaks.
The healthcare stakeholders will carry out a qualitative study employing a social-ecological framework to examine the risks within the country for mitigation intervention to prevent a recurrence after Ghana declared an end of its latest Marburg virus outbreak.
“An outbreak of MVD was declared in Ghana on 7 July 2022, after a test on an index case who died 24 hours after presenting to a health facility in the Ashanti region with symptoms of Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers (VHF) returned positive after his death,” WHO announced on its site.
Subsequently, the swift response of the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service with support from WHO and other key partners led to a declaration of the outbreak over in a short period.
“The response to Marburg virus was not only swift, but it was also comprehensive and nationwide,” Dr Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe, Director of Public Health of the Ghana Health Service recalled.
He further said that the support from WHO and other partners enabled health authorities to enhance surveillance, break the chain of transmission and actively managed cases.
In addition, the Government of Ghana mobilized support from partners and stakeholders including the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Wildlife Division to quickly implement measures that will sharply break the chain of transmission.
The country-level efforts also targeted at managing affected cases to reduce mortality and morbidity while ensuring continuity of health services and equitable dedication to other ongoing health emergencies.
Furthermore, the United Nations agency highlighted that the country’s public health emergency preparedness and response system gallantly stood the test of the Marburg Virus which was another public health challenge that was going to confront Ghana’s healthcare system.
“Whilst health authorities were already dealing with several outbreaks including COVID-19, yellow fever, polio, and monkeypox, the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service activated the Emergency Operations Center to effectively coordinate response activities to the MVD outbreak,” WHO said.
The organization further underscored that the effective emergency response aimed at avoiding escalation of cases in the three at-risk regions namely Ashanti, Western and Savannah regions, with preparedness activities taking place across the remaining regions of Ghana.
Commenting on Ghana’s response to MVD, the WHO Representative to Ghana Dr. Francis Kasolo, said it is a dividend of preparedness and response driven by multi-stakeholder collaboration through the one health approach to balance and optimize the health of people, animals and the environment.
“In general, the response to this Marburg virus disease outbreak demonstrates how early alert and response, strong surveillance, community involvement and participation, and coordinated efforts can stop an outbreak in its tracks before it ravages communities,” he outlined.
Given the efforts of the Government of Ghana and its partners, African countries must leverage stakeholder collaboration to build resilient surveillance structures at all levels as well as put systems in place to activate them in the quickest time when the need arises.
“WHO supported the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service with coordination, contact tracing and identification and management of cases,” Dr. Kasolo added.