January 30, 2023

Angela Onwuzoo

A non-governmental organisation, Save the Children International Nigeria has backed efforts of the Lagos State government to curb pneumonia in children.

The NGO said it donated hospital equipment and infection prevention and control materials worth over N23m to some flagship health centres in Ikorodu Local Government Area of Lagos State to help curb childhood pneumonia in the state.

It noted that the gesture was through its intervention programme — Integrated Sustainable Childhood Pneumonia and Infectious Diseases Reduction in Nigeria supported by GlaxoSmithKline. 

Project Manager for the INSPIRING project in Lagos State, Mrs. Folake Kuti, said, “The donation was in commemoration of this year’s World Pneumonia Day. 

We believe this would complement the preparedness and response effort of health care workers to the prevention and management of childhood illnesses including pneumonia in Ikorodu Local Government.

“Save the Children Nigeria has been supporting development activities in areas ranging from health system strengthening and capacity building and technical support in Lagos in partnership with the Lagos State Government through various Ministries, Departments and Agencies since 2011. 

“In most recent times, one of our intervention programmes known as Integrated Sustainable Childhood Pneumonia and Infectious Diseases Reduction in Nigeria supported by GSK is focused on prevention and control of childhood pneumonia in Nigeria particularly Ikorodu Local Government Area of Lagos State and Kiyawa Local Government Area in Jigawa State. 

“Starting from the year 2020, Save the Children with support from GSK has donated hundreds of IPC and PPE materials to the Lagos State government and health facilities in Ikorodu respectively.”

Kuti said childhood pneumonia is the biggest killer of children under five in Nigeria.

She, however, said there are so many things that could be done to prevent childhood pneumonia, adding that working with the health workers, the state government, and the community people could help curb pneumonia among under-five children in the country.

The project manager said NGO had trained health workers on how to detect and treat children with pneumonia and was also spreading awareness in communities on how to respond to and prevent pneumonia in children.

“We have improved the skills of healthcare providers to better detect and treat children with pneumonia and donated high-quality and needed equipment and instruments to health facilities for improved quality of care. 

“Our community interventions have improved caregivers and wider community awareness about pneumonia and improved their participation in the quality of healthcare they receive,” she said.

She urged mothers to always keep their environment clean and take their children to the health centre whenever they suspect they have pneumonia.

Pneumonia, the World Health Organistaion says is a form of acute respiratory infection that is most commonly caused by viruses or bacteria.

According to the global health body, pneumonia which can be prevented by vaccines can cause mild to life-threatening illness in people of all ages.

It noted that pneumonia is the single largest infectious cause of death in children worldwide.

“Pneumonia is the single largest infectious cause of death in children worldwide. Pneumonia killed 740,180 children under the age of five in 2019, accounting for 14 percent of all deaths of children under five years old but 22 percent of all deaths in children aged one to five years. 

“Pneumonia affects children and families everywhere, but deaths are highest in southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. 

“Children can be protected from pneumonia, it can be prevented with simple interventions, and it can be treated with low-cost, low-tech medication and care.

“Pneumonia is caused by several infectious agents, including viruses, bacteria, and fungi. People at-risk for pneumonia also include adults over the age of 65 and people with preexisting health problems,” WHO said.

The global health body noted that preventing pneumonia in children is an essential component of a strategy to reduce child mortality. 

“Adequate nutrition is key to improving children’s natural defences, starting with exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. In addition to being effective in preventing pneumonia, it also helps to reduce the length of the illness if a child does become ill,” it noted.

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