Pneumonia epidemic is deadliest child killer

Henrietta Brewer
November 13, 2019

Save the Children said Nigeria has the highest number of pneumonia deaths globally, as the disease claimed the lives of 162,000 Nigerian children under the age of five in 2018.

Hospitals across the country recorded 56,000 child emergency admissions for the disease previous year, a jump of more than 50 per cent compared to a decade ago.

"Every day, almost 2,200 children under the age of five die from pneumonia, a curable and mostly preventable disease", commented UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore.

The numbers make grim reading and compare with 437,000 under-fives dying previous year due to diarrhoea and 272,000 to malaria.

Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi, and leaves children fighting for breath as their lungs fill with pus and fluid.

Children with weakened immune systems, by malnutrition or other infections, and those in areas with high air pollution levels, are at greater risk of developing the disease.

The illness can even be averted with vaccines and is effectively handled with low-price antibiotics if smartly identified.

"This is a forgotten global epidemic that demands an urgent worldwide response", Save the Children chief executive Kevin Watkins concurred.

"But while British children nearly always survive, millions of children in poor countries are dying for want of vaccines, a few pence worth of antibiotics, and routine oxygen treatment".

United nation and all health related institutions across the globe are observing world Pneumonia day, a preventable disease, killing thousands of children every day. Love us on Facebook or be conscious us on Twitter and Instagram for most up-to-date data and are living data updates.

The charities are urging the future British government to increase the proportion of its overseas aid spent on healthcare and step up the fight against malnutrition as the most significant driver of childhood pneumonia.

Tens of millions of children are still going unvaccinated - and one in three with symptoms do not receive essential medical care. The most common bacterial causes of pneumonia amongst children include: "Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)", said Dr. Hazir.

'Every child, regardless of where they are born, deserves access to lifesaving vaccines and medicines, ' says the World Health Organization (WHO).

Kevin Watkins, CEO of Save the Children, said: "These findings show pneumonia is a disease that affects the poorest children worst of all, wherever they are in the world".

It also means the disease now snuffs life out of under-five children in Nigeria more than any other child killers like HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Measles, Tuberculosis put together.

It can be prevented with vaccines, and treated with antibiotics and - in severe cases - with oxygen, but in poorer countries, access to these is often limited.

Leith Greenslade, Coordinator of Every Breath Counts, said:"For decades the leading killer of children has been a neglected disease and the world's most vulnerable children have paid the price".

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