Why We Must Save Children from Pneumonia
We must save our children from the deadly pneumonia that kills at least a child every 45 seconds and over 700,000 yearly says, Save the Children International (SCIN) Nigeria.
SCIN in its 2022 world pneumonia day message noted that the fight against the disease has to be championed by every stakeholder for the battle to be effective.
From the World Health Organisation (WHO) report, pneumonia is a form of acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs. It could be caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi.
In 2019, the WHO reports that pneumonia killed 740, 180 children within the age of one and five years and the deaths accounted for about 14% of all deaths recorded amongst children, the highest in southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Since pneumonia is a largely preventable and treatable disease says Save the Children International, government and partners must jointly champion the fight against childhood pneumonia.
Referring to the theme of the 2022 world pneumonia day: “championing the fight to stop pneumonia”, SCIN stated, it is a reminder that urgent action is needed to protect over 700,000 children who are denied the chance to reach their fifth birthday every year.
According to the International non-governmental organisation, half of the children all over the world are not fully protected with the Pneumococcal (PCV) vaccine and this in turn fuels the high incident of childhood deaths.
Climate Change Impacts Threaten Children’s Survival, SCIN
SCIN equally notes that about a third of all pneumonia deaths across the globe is caused by air pollution making pneumonia a climate crisis as well as a child rights crisis that poses a serious threat to children’s health and well-being.
Country Director, Save the Children International Nigeria, Famari Barro, pointed out, “Almost all those deaths are preventable through vaccination, adequate nutrition, access to hand washing and basic health services, including access to oxygen treatment at the primary healthcare level. However, thousands of children are unable to access the essential health services and treatments, which can tackle pneumonia and save their lives”, laments Barro.
According to Barro, “the unprecedented global climate and economic crisis poses grave threats to children’s health and survival.
“Our flagship INSPIRING project through our partnership with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has been at the forefront of the fight against pneumonia in Nigeria.
“The fight must continue, and government must continue to champion this fight to protect thousands of children who die every year from this killer disease”, said Barro.
Save the Children believes every child deserves a future.
Pneumonia can be treated if sick children have access to timely care and treatment.
But for many children and their families, access to timely essential and life-saving treatments such as oxygen and antibiotics remains the difference between life and death. Pneumonia is no longer a “forgotten” killer disease.
In the words of Chief of Party, INSPIRING Project, Dr. Adamu Isah, “Evidence from our interventions in Jigawa and Lagos States have confirmed that we know the tools to confront pneumonia and end child deaths”.
Idaho revealed “we have improved the skills of healthcare providers to better detect and treat children with pneumonia and donated high-quality and needed equipment and instruments to health facilities for improved quality of care.
“Our community interventions have improved caregivers and wider community awareness about pneumonia and improved their participation in the quality of healthcare they receive”, said Isah,
Save the Children is asking government and partners to champion access to primary health care, prevent pneumonia deaths through immunization, prevention and treatment of wasting, and diagnosis and treatment of common causes of illness and death – for every child.
Government and partners should keep up the momentum of investing in uninterrupted and sustainable access to oxygen in all healthcare facilities in Nigeria.
Save the children also calls for strengthening essential health & nutrition services and make the needed investment in community-based primary healthcare as well as introduce and scale up access to pneumonia-fighting vaccines such as PCV for all children, especially targeting children suffering from or at risk of severe acute malnutrition and zero-dose children.
The nongovernmental organisation urged that stakeholders should ensure every child has access to life-saving treatment, including antibiotics and oxygen when and where they need it.
TRANSMISSION OF PNEUMONIA
Pneumonia can be spread in several ways. The viruses and bacteria that are commonly found in a child’s nose or throat can infect the lungs if they are inhaled.
They may also spread via air-borne droplets from a cough or sneeze.
In addition, pneumonia may spread through blood, especially during and shortly after birth.
A child’s immune system may be weakened by malnutrition or undernourishment, especially in infants who are not exclusively breastfed.
According to the WHO, while most healthy children can fight the infection with their natural defences, children whose immune systems are compromised are at higher risk of developing pneumonia.