Simon Osei Mensah (Ashanti Regional Minister), Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh (Educational Minister), Kweku Agyeman Manu (Health Minister), Rev Sylvester Osei-Wusu (KUMACA Headmaster)
The Kumasi Academy Senior High School (KUMACA) in the Asokore Mampong Municipality in Kumasi – which has been hit by four strange student deaths in just six days – may be closed down.
The Ashanti Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) and other stakeholders have proposed the immediate closure of the school, subject to the approval of the Ministry of Education.
However, Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyemang Manu, has kicked against any attempt to close down the school for fear of spreading the bacteria causing the deaths, which is said to be contagious.
The Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah, stressed the need for the school to be closed down, adding that the closure is one of the critical moves to help stop the mysterious deaths.
“The Regional Coordinating Council, the Ministry of Health and other key stakeholders believe the closure of the school would contribute to stop the shocking deaths that have hit KUMACA since last week.
“This is our suggestion, but the Ministry of Education has the final say, with regards to whether the school should be closed down or not,” Mr Osei Mensah stated during an exclusive interview with DAILY GUIDE yesterday.
So far, about 11 deaths have been recorded in the school within the last 10 months.
This has compelled the Municipal Chief Executive of Asokore Mampong, Alhaji Alidu Seidu, to call for spiritual intervention.
“As we use scientific means to help find antidote to the strange deaths that have hit KUMACA, there is the need for us to look at the spiritual aspect too to see if we can find answers to this calamity and stop the deaths.
“These deaths, which we are struggling to find their exact cause, could be spiritually-related. So as we focus on the scientific aspects, we shall also invite the soothsayers to also help us,” the MCE said.
However, medical officers suspect viral infection, ruling out any spirituality.
As part of moves to stop the deaths, Mr Simon Osei Mensah announced that the ministry of health on Tuesday started giving doses of anti-bacteria drug to the students to protect them from infections, adding that the exercise is still ongoing.
According to him, the real cause of the four students who passed on recently had not been found, adding that “health personnel have so far ruled out meningitis and viral as the cause of the deaths; they are suspecting bacteria.”
Mr Simon Osei Mensah averred, “We also don’t know the exact bacteria causing the deaths. In this regard, the bacteria dose that is being administered to the entire student body has the potential to fight multiple bacterial infections.
“We are hoping that the students that left the school campus before the anti-bacteria dose exercise started would return to campus so that they would also be given the anti-bacteria dose. Hopefully, we will complete the exercise on Saturday.
“We are therefore proposing to the ministry of education to give the green light for the school to be closed down on Saturday so that we can thoroughly fumigate the school campus and make the place habitable once again.”
The regional minister explained that the anti-bacteria dose is necessary since it would help prevent the spread of the unknown disease or bacteria.
According to him, all the students would leave the school latest by Thursday to pave way for medical experts to thoroughly scan the school to wipe out possible viruses.
The Deputy Education Minister, Dr Osei Adutwum, rushed to the KUMACA campus Wednesday morning to find out what was really causing the students to die after a short illness.
He was accompanied by Mr Simon Osei Mensah and other lieutenants in the education and health sectors. They moved through the school to inspect dormitories and classrooms.
Briefing the media, Dr Adutwum expressed the condolences of his minister, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, and the entire education ministry, to the bereaved families, saying that the deaths were disturbing.
He gave the assurance that the ministry and other stakeholders would do everything humanly possible to help make KUMACA campus habitable once again.
Mr Kwaku Agyemang Manu told parliamentarians that the blood samples of the affected students and their CSF had been taken and sent to the Noguchi Memorial and Medical Research Centre for examination, adding that initial findings were negative of Viral Hemorrhagic Fever.
He added that the initial autopsy was, however, inconclusive.
“Currently, no definite laboratory confirmation has been done as to the cause of the outbreak,” he said yesterday.
The health minister’s appearance in parliament followed an urgent request by the minority chief whip and National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Asawase, Mubarak Muntaka – in whose constituency the school is located.
The parliamentarians were not particularly happy about the way the incident, which began in March this year, had been handled by the health ministry.
Mr Agyemang Manu indicated, “We have other terms of reference as ensuring case management, protecting the population who are at risk, educating the school population, presenting report with recommendation to prevent further occurrences, as well as technical and logistical support to the region and the affected municipality,” he said.
The minister told parliament that on Saturday, December 2, an emergency meeting was held between the school authorities and a team from the Ghana Health Service, with representation from the Ghana Health Service in Accra, Kumasi and Asokore-Mampong.
From I.F. Joe Awuah Jnr., Kumasi Thomas &Fosu Jnr