Published: Wed, November 13, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Nigeria records highest global pneumonia deaths in 2018

Nigeria records highest global pneumonia deaths in 2018

Chief Executive Officer, Save the Children, Kevin Watkins, who spoke at a news conference to mark the World Pneumonia Day yesterday in Abuja, lamented that pneumonia is the world's leading infectious killer of children under the age five, yet not so much attention is paid to the killer disease even though it could be prevented through vaccination.

A joint statement by the United Nations children's agency, Unicef, and five other groups says 800,000 children died of the preventable lung disease previous year, calling it a forgotten epidemic. "Strong global commitment and increased investments are critical to the fight against this disease", said Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF, in a report released on Monday.

Pneumonia is ended in by bacteria, viruses or fungi, and leaves teenagers combating for breath as their lungs beget with pus and fluid.

Pneumonia is preventable but still a killer disease and just five countries were responsible for more than half of child pneumonia deaths: Nigeria (162,000), India (127,000), Pakistan (58,000), the Democratic Republic of Congo (40,000) and Ethiopia (32,000).

Most deaths occurred among children under the age of two, and nearly 153,000 within the first month of life, a statement made available The Voice by the United Nation Children Funds (UNICEF) said on Monday.

She added that the disease could be prevented with vaccines, and could easily be treated with low-priced antibiotics if properly diagnosed.

In 2018, 27 children in England died from pneumonia, according to the global report by charities Save the Children and Unicef.

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Hospital admissions have risen more than 50 per cent over the last decade, with 56,000 child emergency admissions for the disease in the last financial year.

'Although vaccines and other preventative efforts are decreasing the burden of the disease, much more work is still required.

Acting UNICEF representative in Nigeria, Pernille Ironside, said the biggest risk factors for child pneumonia deaths in Nigeria were malnutrition, indoor air pollution from the use of solid fuels and outdoor air pollution.

This new research published on November 11, 2019, shows pneumonia is the most common reason why children are admitted to the hospital in Laos, with most requiring treatment with oxygen, especially young infants. Vaccines hold promise of saving millions of children from dying of pneumonia.

She said her foundation is partnering with Save the Children to raise funds for providing solutions that would ensure no child in Nigeria "suffers from the devastating blow of this disease".

In a joint call to action, the organisations urge: Governments in the worst-affected countries to develop and implement Pneumonia Control Strategies to reduce child pneumonia deaths; and to improve access to primary health care as part of a wider strategy for universal health coverage.

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