With a high record of children under five dying from pneumonia, medical experts have said that urgent intervention is needed to save Nigeria from becoming the country with the highest burden of deaths from the disease by 2030. They also called for more immunisation and adequate nutrition for children.
Speaking at a round table session in Lagos recently, a Public Health Specialist with Save the Children International, Dr. Olutosin Adeoye, said malnourished and poorly immunised or unimmunised children are mostly at risk of pneumonia, adding that Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Congo will bear the highest burden of deaths among under-five years old, if no action is taken.
Following recent studies indicating that pneumonia could kill nearly 11 million children by 2030 (Johns Hopkins and Save the Children, 2018), the expert said most of these preventable deaths would take place in Nigeria if urgent action was not taken.
According to Adeoye, women are key factors in the fight against pneumonia. “If women will do exclusive breastfeeding for their babies for the first six months, it will boost their children’s immunity and protect them from pneumonia among other diseases”.
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Advisor, SCI, Dr. Opeyemi Odedere, described pneumonia as a form of acute respiratory infection that affects the small sacs in the lungs called alveoli, which could result into pus or fluid filled alveoli. This could lead to painful breathing and ultimately limits oxygen intake.
He added: “When the lungs are filled with mucus like fluid, they provoke coughing, shortness of breath and fever, among other symptoms. As the lungs fill with fluid, their ability to take in oxygen decreases.”
Deputy Director, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Monsurat Adeleke, revealed that about 920,000 children die daily due to pneumonia, adding that the world has decided to eliminate pneumonia, as it accounts for one of the greatest child killer diseases globally.
“We have decided to look at pneumonia in integrated manner, where we flag off community campaign to ensure that all the children are healthy.
” Save the Children and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) decided to create awareness about pneumonia because they do not want any child to die of it.”