By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
Every year, an estimated 155 million children under the age of five years are made sick by pneumonia, raising concerns on need to create awareness on its prevention.
Honourable Commissioner Of Health, Kaduna State, Dr. Amina Baloni disclosed this, at a press briefing, which was part of activities to mark the World Pneumonia Day 2020, on Thursday November 12 at the Conference Room of the Ministry Of Health.
“In 2019, pneumonia killed 2.5 million people worldwide, including 700,000 children.
“Most these pneumonia morbidities and pneumonia-deaths are in seven countries, with Nigeria and India being the most hit countries,” she said.
The commissioner said that the World Pneumonia Day was started on 2nd November 2009 by the Stop Pneumonia Initiative and has been held every 12th day of November since 2010. So, this is the 12th celebration to take place.
“It has three aims: To raise awareness about pneumoniaPromote interventions to protect against, prevent, and treat pneumonia, and Generate action to combat pneumonia Pneumonia, though very much a preventable disease, still remains a tangible threat to the lives of under-5 children and the elderly,” she said.
According to her, the situation in Kaduna state reflects this grim picture of preventable deaths, with pneumonia accounting for 13% of death of children before they reach their fifth birthday.
“Kaduna State has the second highest burden of childhood pneumonia among the seven North-Western States in Nigeria.
“The celebration of World Pneumonia Day helps to bring this kind of information to the front burner and, therefore, promote actions that can swiftly bring the ugly situation under control.
“The World Pneumonia Day 2020 is special because it is the first time it will take place during a global pandemic, the Covid-19. As of 6th November 2020, 47 million cases of Covid-19 have been reported worldwide with about 1.23 million deaths,” she explained.
According to her, the corresponding figures in Nigeria are 63,508 and 1,155 and in Kaduna State 2,670 and 44 respectively.
“COVID-19 is principally a respiratory tract infection and most people with the severe disease have Covid-19 pneumonia. It is estimated that Covid-19 will add about 1.9 million deaths to the already over 2 million people dying from pneumonia each year.
“Apart from killing so many adults in Nigeria, COVID-19 also disrupted maternal and newborn services such as immunization and caused poverty at both government and household levels.
“These are just a few examples of the deleterious effects of Covid-19.The Government of Kaduna State recognizes the need to work with the Global Coalition Against Child Pneumonia as represented by the Paediatric Association of Nigeria, UNICEF and other partners and stakeholders,” she lamented.
The commissioner said that fforts would be scaled up to combat the risk factors for pneumonia, such as promoting exclusive breast feeding in the first six months of life and improving vaccine demand and utilization.
“Availability of affordable effective antibiotics, pulse oximeters at all levels of healthcare, and supplemental oxygen for the adequate treatment of pneumonia will be pursued,” she added.
She said they remain very optimistic that when all hands are placed on deck to support the government and Associations like the Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN) and UNICEF in the implementation of these preventive measures, these unfavourable childhood morbidity and mortality from preventable pneumonia will be reduced in Kaduna State and the country generally.