Meningitis awareness and prevention: community sensitization

People involved: Kanny Diallo, Dorothy Yeboah-Manu, Eric Koka, Abraham Oduro, Francis Broni
Institution: Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research; Navrongo Health Research Centre, Cape Coast University

Meningitis is a life-threatening disease, caused by multiple different mucosal pathogens. The most common ones are Neisseria meningitidis, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Haemophilus influenza, but other bacteria such as Salmonella, GBS or Escherichia coli may also be implicated. The bacteria causing most meningitis cases are usually normal inhabitants of the nasopharynx and are carried asymptomatically, but some strains can enter the bloodstream and reach the blood/brain barrier, causing the inflammation of the meninges (meningitis). Community awareness of the disease is key in improving outcome of such infections as it allows rapid recognition of the symptoms, better understanding of the risks, and may lead to more cases being reported promptly to the nearest health facility. As part of an ongoing microbiome study conducted in Ghana, we are organising “Meningitis awareness days” before the start of our sampling surveys in April and in July. In addition to inviting the community elders and households to participate in our study, we will target local schools and universities closest to both communities. We will organise a day in each educational centre with lectures and activities designed to educate the community on the different mucosal pathogens and the diseases associated with them. The activities will be primarily organised and coordinated by the project’s staff at the Noguchi Research Centre, the Research Centre in Navrongo and collaborators in Cape Coast, but efforts will be made to synergise with any similar ongoing programme lead by the Ghana Health Service department.