Dr. Yashim Andrew, a public health scientist and hermatologist at the National Hospital, Abuja has called for proper diagnosis and adequate treatment of pneumonia, to reduce child mortality in the country. Yashim made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday (today) in commemoration of the World Pneumonia Day. The Day comes up on Nov. 12 every year to champion the fight against pneumonia.
According to him, pneumonia is one of the biggest infectious killers of children, hence the need to research more to proffer solutions to the causes, appropriate treatment and preventive measures for the disease. He explained that pneumonia could be spread from viruses and bacteria commonly found in a child’s nose or throat, adding that it could also infect the lungs if inhaled, or spread via air-borne droplets from a cough or sneeze.
The expert further said that pneumonia might spread through blood, especially during and shortly after birth. “More research needs to be done on the different pathogens causing pneumonia and the ways they are transmitted as this is of critical importance for treatment and prevention. Preventing pneumonia in children is an essential component of a strategy to reduce child mortality.
“Also, immunisation against HIB (Haemophilus Influenza type B) pneumococcal, measles and whooping cough (pertussis) is the most effective way to prevent pneumonia. 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,’’ he said.
Yashim also said that addressing environmental factors such as indoor air pollution by providing affordable, clean indoor stoves and encouraging good hygiene in crowded homes also reduced the number of children who would fall ill with pneumonia. He noted that the signs and symptoms of pneumonia might include cough, fever, sweating and shaking chills, shortness of breath, rapid and shallow breathing.
Others according to the expert are: sharp or stabbing chest pain that gets worse when breathing deeply or cough, loss of appetite, low energy, and fatigue. He stressed the need for parents to seek immediate medical attention for proper diagnosis, treatment and care of pneumonia, when they notice any of the symptoms. The expert also called on the government to continue to improve the health status of the nation by providing adequate facilities to address health challenges.