Tuesday, 28 September, 2021

Stopping Pneumonia from being a major child killer stressed

Despite the country’s notable advancement in child mortality rate, silent killer pneumonia still haunts the people, particularly the low-income groups, with apprehensions of creating havoc in one’s family.

This became true for a couple when they faced an ordeal with their two and a half years old baby Nadia, who was diagnosed with pneumonia. Initially, the baby was suffering from fever, cold and breathing problems for a few days. Medications could not bring recovery for the afflicting infant.

As Nadia’s condition deteriorated after five days, her parents  took her to a pediatrician, who after making medical check-up, diagnosed Nadia with pneumonia.

As per the advice of the doctor, Sadia and Anowar, parents of Nadia, got her admitted to a hospital immediately. They broke into tears when they heard that Nadia’s condition was critical.

This is one among thousands of similar cases of pneumonia- affected children. According to a survey, pneumonia kills more
than one in ten under five year children in Bangladesh, posing as one of the leading killer diseases.

Bangladesh committed to reach global targets of reducing child pneumonia to 3 pneumonia deaths per 1000 live births,
according to a report recently released by Save the Children and Johns Hopkins University.

The report highlighted that more collaborative efforts to fight pneumonia could avert nearly 140,000 child deaths from pneumonia and other related diseases in Bangladesh over the next ten years.

Dhaka Shishu Hospital Dr Saidur Rahman said pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi, and leaves children
fighting for breath as their lungs fill with pus and fluid. More children under the age of five died from the disease in 2018 than from any other, he added.

He said the disease can be prevented with vaccines, and easily treated with low-cost antibiotics if properly diagnosed. Children with severe cases of pneumonia may also require oxygen treatment, which is rarely available in the poorest countries to the children who need it, the doctor added.

In Bangladesh, pneumonia claimed the lives of more than 12,000 children under five, which is more than 1 child every hour. Thirteen percent of child deaths were due to pneumonia in 2018.

“Bangladesh is committed to reduce children dying from pneumonia to reach global targets of 3 pneumonia deaths per 1000 live births by 2025,” said Shamsul Haque, as he participated as a panelist in the national government perspectives session in the pneumonia global forum in Barcelona held recently.

He said “We have an aim to develop a National Pneumonia Prevention and Control Strategy to ensure quality equitable access to primary healthcare and contributing towards achieving Universal Health Coverage.”

Save the Children appreciates the government’s efforts in improving exclusive breastfeeding rate and reducing
malnutrition rate in the country, he added.

Dr Saidur said most deaths from pneumonia can be averted by ensuring high coverage of pneumonia vaccines, timely treatment
of pneumonia at the community level and appropriate infant and young children feeding.

The importance of promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child underscores giving due attention to stopping pneumonia from being a major child killer.

A comprehensive campaign is necessitated to raise awareness among all irrespective of class for adequate policies for
pneumonia interventions.