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Pneumonia kills 4 million people yearly

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By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Chioma Obinna
The dreaded killer disease, pneumonia kills more than four million people every year with half of the deaths being children under five years, it has been revealed.

Pneumonia is an infection of the lung which can be caused by many organisms like bacteria, virus and fungi; bacteria- haemophilus influenza b and pneumococcus have been found to be responsible for about 50 percent of cases in children under five years.

Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris disclosed this yesterday at a media briefing as part of activities to mark the first Lagos World Pneumonia Day slated for Monday, November 2nd, 2009 with the theme, “Fight Pneumonia, Save A Child”.

Therefore, to effectively combat the acclaimed leading childhood killer disease-Pneumonia, Idris called for a revitalized focus on policies guiding the management of the disease including the allocation of  resources.
According to the commissioner who revealed that the death rate is also high in Lagos , he could not readily give the total percentage Lagos State loss to pneumonia annually.

His words: “Statistics shows that pneumonia kills more than four million people every year and  half of these deaths are in children under five years, that is, every 15 seconds, a child is lost to pneumonia, 5, 500 every day and an unbelievable two million every year.

“An estimated 98 percent of children  die in  developed countries while more than 2000 children die in developing countries.”

Idris stressed that it has been recently confirmed that pneumonia is the leading cause of infant and under five morbidity as well as mortality in the world followed by malaria, vaccine preventable disease and diarrhea, hence, the need to fight pneumonia, which he said  is now.

“Let us also know that pneumonia causes needless sufferings through illness and hospitalization, while contributing significantly to the vicious cycle of poverty,” the commissioner stated.

Idris noted that it causes fever and cough and makes breathing difficult for the sufferer, adding that though, the elderly, tobacco smokers, as well as children with other illnesses such as HIV/AIDS and malnutrition are at risk of developing pneumonia..

He listed some of the prevention to include vaccines which are safe and effective tool, zinc supplementation reduces the rate of pneumonia in children by 14 percent-25 percent especially undernourished children.

“As you all know, infant and under 5 mortality remains unacceptabley high in our society, the government of Lagos State will not relent in her efforts to reverse the trend.

“To this end, we are continuously upgrading and renovating existing structures with the state of the art equipment, while building new health facilities aimed at providing quality health services in the area of maternal and child health, amongst others.

One of the highlights to commemorate the day include a public seminar to be held at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), on Monday, November 2, 2009.

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