By Victoria Ojeme – Abuja
A new report by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) shows Nigeria recorded the highest global deaths from pneumonia at 162,000 last year.
Globally, pneumonia claimed the lives of more than 800,000 children under the age of five in 2018 or one child every 39 seconds, according to the new analysis.
Nigerian children made up the highest number of those who died of pneumonia, with an estimated 162,000 deaths in 2018 – 443 deaths per day, or 18 every hour.
“In Nigeria, 19 per cent of child deaths were due to pneumonia in 2018, and it was the biggest killer of children under-five in 2017,” Acting UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Pernille Ironside said.
According to Ironside “Pneumonia is a deadly disease and takes so many children’s lives – even though this is mostly preventable. And yet, this killer disease has been largely forgotten on the global and national health agendas. We can and must change this.”
The biggest risk factors for child deaths from the ailment in Nigeria are malnutrition, indoor air pollution from use of solid fuels, and outdoor air pollution, UNICEF said.
Most global child pneumonia deaths occurred among children under the age of two, and almost 153,000 within the first month of life.
“Sounding the alarm about this forgotten epidemic, six leading health and children’s organisations today launched an appeal for global action,” UNICEF said.
In January, the group will host world leaders at the Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia in Spain.