By Sola Ogundipe & Chioma Obinna
LAGOSâ€”With over 200,000 Nigerian children dying and six million suffering from childhood pneumonia annually, experts have called for a multifaceted approach to combat the disease, now rated the worldâ€™s number one killer of children.
Towards this end, the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Education Fund, (UNICEF) have launched a comprehensive plan to save 5.3 million children dying of pneumonia by 2015.
Speaking at the commemoration of the World Pneumonia Day, organised by the Health and Sustainable Development Association of Nigeria (HESDAN) in collaboration with the Lagos State Ministry of Health, Consultant Paediatrician, Prof. Oluyinka Ogundipe pointed out that improved immunisation activities would drastically reduce the prevalence of the disease.
In his paper entitled; â€œPneumonia: The Forgotten Killer of Childrenâ€ Ogundipe said to achieve reduction in the number of cases, there must be improvement in case management and treatment, reduction of risk factors, improved nutrition and availability of vaccines such as HB, Pneumococcal, measles and pertussis vaccines.
He explained that vaccinations save lives and reduce healthcare costs for families.
In order to improve interventions towards reducing risk factors, he stressed the need for adequate breast-feeding which he said can decrease respiratory disease-related hospitalizations by 15 per cent.
According to him, Zinc supplementation can significantly reduce the incidence of acute lower respiratory infections as well as reduction of household indoor air pollution.