‘Pneumonia Contributes To Under Five Deaths In Nigeria’
A Research Consultant for International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) Nigeria, Ms. Chisom Obi has said that Nigeria should strengthen its efforts to prevent and treat pneumonia as it is the second leading cause of child deaths. Although pneumonia is preventable and treatable, an alarming 6.7 million cases occur every year in the country. It is estimated that 750,000 children under the age of five die annually in Nigeria. Of these, about 127,000 died of pneumonia alone, accounting for 17 per cent (including neonatal) of all under-five deaths in Nigeria.
According to her, “many of these cases and deaths are due to lack of access to interventions to prevent and treat pneumonia. Nigeria has introduced interventions to strengthen efforts towards pneumonia control through the local production of dispersible amoxicillin tablets, which is currently the first line of treatment for community-acquired pneumonia. Another is the phased introduction of the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) a highly effective vaccine against the commonest types of pneumococcal diseases into the routine immunization system in December 2014. It is expected that PCV will be fully scaled to the whole country by early 2016.”
Ms. Obi noted that the country has commenced the process of introducing the integrated community case management for malaria, pneumonia and diarrheal diseases. “However, gaps still remain in the general knowledge of, and in the diagnosis of pneumonia especially at the lower level of health care service delivery (primary health care centres and rural communities). There is also poor access to technologies such as X-ray machines and pulse-oximeters for diagnosis and oxygen therapies for treatment.
“We now have an opportunity to create visibility to the multifaceted pneumonia response in the country, for a more unified and integrated pneumonia control agenda; the WHO and UNICEF Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD) calls for an integrated approach to pneumonia and diarrhea control with interventions to protect, prevent, and treat the diseases.
The GAPPD also sets out coverage targets for key interventions to end preventable child deaths from pneumonia and diarrhea by 2025.”
She added that every year, progress of the 15 countries with the highest-burden of child mortality from pneumonia and diarrhea are assessed through GAPPD scores, developed by IVAC; Nigeria has an insignificant two per cent gain in GAPPD pneumonia intervention score and so it is imperative to improve access to fight this preventable and treatable disease that contributes significantly to under-five deaths in the country.