Recent “Sudden Deaths” in the Tamale Metropolis & parts of the Northern Region – Thinking Aloud

There have been some reports of “sudden deaths” of apparently healthy looking people in and around the Tamale Metropolis in recent times. The victims of this development are mostly without any known sickness or succumbed after a very short sickness.

It is not surprising to hear comments such as “we were just with him yesterday”, “this was where he sat yesterday”, “we had planned to meet this morning”, “we spoke a while ago”, etc. These deaths always leave shocks, fears and devastation among families, close associates and neighbours.

Since most of these deaths happen at home or within a very short period on arrival at health facilities, there is little or no room for medical investigations to establish the cause of the deaths. Again, most families are not in favour of autopsy, which further makes it difficult to determine the possible reasons for these deaths.

The concerns….

  1. We are currently in a pandemic, Covid-19, which has outsmarted the developed worlds with all their sophisticated health systems. According to the February 18, 2021 update on the virus released by the Ghana Health Service, the Northern Region had 26 active cases, a number that could easily have been considered as “not bad”. The Savelugu Municipal Hospital has to be shut down temporarily as part of measures to contain the spread of the virus.

However, there are still concerns about the real effects of Covid-19 in the Region based on the following:

a. Most people still have their doubts about the realities of covid-19

b. Most people lack correct information about this pandemic

c. The protocols are hardly observed

d. People do not undertake any Covid-19 test for fear of stigmatisation

e. People are even afraid to visit health facilities for medical attention on suspicion that they will be “added to the covid-19 patients”

Could covid-19 have a hand in these deaths?

  1. The weather conditions in the area is currently hazy. Hazy conditions are not new in the North but could the associated dust and heat any role in the recent deaths?
  2. A new sickness? Perhaps, because the attention of the health authorities is on covid-19, a new sickness or one of the known existing health conditions has resurfaced and causing these deaths.

Suggestions…

  1. The Ghana Health Service should investigate the cause of these deaths. To achieve this, they will need the cooperation of the people in areas like reporting sicknesses, allowing autopsy, visiting health facilities, among others.
  2. An appeal to the people to observe the protocols, adhere to advice from health experts and each brother’s keeper
  3. Stakeholders such as chiefs and Imams/pastors to help in sensitising the people on the need to:

i. Observe the protocols
ii. Report to health institutions
iii. Cooperate with health authorities to conduct autopsy where necessary

May the souls of the departed rest in peace and may Allah heal our land.

Author: Abdul-Jalil Alidu

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