EDITORIAL: Let’s all join forces to defeat this child killer

Thursday November 14 2019

By Janet Otieno-Prosper

Pneumonia is the world’s deadliest child killer, with a “forgotten epidemic” claiming one young life every 39 seconds, Unicef warned on Tuesday.

The disease is preventable but still kills more children – 800,000 under the age of five last year – than any other infection, the UN agency said in a statement to mark World Pneumonia Day.

Henrietta Fore, Unicef executive director, said in a statement that strong global commitment and increased investments are critical to the fight against this disease

Only through cost-effective protective, preventative and treatment interventions delivered to where children are will we be able to truly save millions of lives.

And according to the World Health Organization, viruses, bacteria, or fungi can cause the disease.

The good news is that it can be prevented by immunisation, adequate nutrition, and by addressing environmental factors like indoor air pollution caused by cooking and heating with biomass fuels (such as wood or dung), living in crowded homes and parental smoking can increase a child’s susceptibility to pneumonia.

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The bad news is that most people are not even aware that encouraging good hygiene in crowded homes is an essential component in preventing pneumonia.

And it should also be noted that adequate nutrition like exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months provides the child with immunity and reduces even the length of illness.

The government can step in by sensitising people about the risk factors and protect more children from falling ill by promoting immunization, exclusive breastfeeding and ensure every sick child have an access to healthcare.

This way, we will end preventable pneumonia deaths in the country.