The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, says efforts are in place to scale up critical services, interventions to protect children from pneumonia and other childhood diseases. Ehanire disclosed this on Friday while briefing the media in commemoration of the 2021 World Pneumonia Day in Abuja, with a theme, “Pneumonia and Environmental Pollution’’.
According to him, reports shows about 808,920 paediatric pneumonia associated deaths and more than 100 million childhood pneumonia globally, on annual basis majorly from low and middle-income countries.
He added that three-quarters of global mortalities happen in 14 countries, including Nigeria, which has 162,000 under-five deaths annually. “If the current trend in pneumonia-related childhood mortality continues, especially with the advent of Delta variant of the coronavirus, the SDG under-five mortality reduction target of having less than 25 deaths per 1000 live birth will not be achieved. “Therefore, Nigeria needs to accelerate efforts towards reducing the burden of pneumonia and other childhood killer disease,’’ he said.
Dr Osagie Ehanire added that the WHO report states that malnutrition, indoor and outdoor air pollution, inadequate breastfeeding and lack of immunisation, rank highest among predisposing factors for childhood pneumonia. He said through the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia (GAPP) initiative, the Nigerian Integrated Pneumonia Control Strategy and Implementation Plan, critical intervention and services will be brought together to protect children from diseases.
The minister, while expressing appreciation to development partners, urged them to continue to support the government, especially in setting up human resources, staff accommodation, electricity and water supply in Primary Health Care (PHCs) to cater to the health needs and universal health coverage.
Walter Mulombo, Nigeria’s Country Representative, World Health Organisation (WHO), stressed the need to highlight the causes of pneumonia and air pollution, appropriate treatment which will significantly reduce the number of deaths recorded due to its complication. Mulombo, represented by Dr Joy Ufere-Isikima, Technical Officer, Child and Adolescent Health in the organisation stressed the need for the government to increase access to vaccines and scale up some of its programmes.
He listed exclusive breastfeeding, nutrition, and access to vaccines as factors that will help prevent, protect and treat children from pneumonia and air pollution complications, as well as achieve universal health coverage.
Dr Adamu Isah, representing Save the Children International (SCI) stressed the need for the dissemination and implementation of the National Pneumonia Strategy to reduce the rates of deaths connected to pneumonia and air pollution. Isah added that the organisation had so far supported over 64 PHCs in some states with pneumonia and air pollution intervention to reduce the risk and consequences of the diseases.
Mr Edward Celades, Chief of Health, UNICEF, while reiterating their commitment to support the government to address issues affecting children, urged them to scale-up services that will reduce major causes of pneumonia and air pollution diseases.