The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday revealed that two million children will die of pneumonia in Nigeria in the next 10 years unless serious action is taken to fight the dreaded disease.
UNICEF in a statement by its Communication, Advocacy and Partnership Specialist, Malam Rabiu Musa, said that malnutrition, air pollution and lack of access to vaccines and antibiotics were among the factors responsible for the spread of the disease, which kills a child every three minutes in the country.
UNICEF said: “Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi, and leaves children fighting for breath as their lungs fill with pus and fluid.
“The disease is the leading killer of children in Nigeria, causing 19 per cent of under-five deaths, which can be prevented with vaccines, and easily treated with low-cost antibiotics.
“However, more than 40 per cent of one-year-olds in Nigeria are unvaccinated, and three in four children suffering from pneumonia symptoms do not get access to medical treatment,”
According to UNICEF, the two million children expected to die from Pneumonia is very disturbing because it makes Nigeria the country with the highest number in the world and representing more than 20 per cent of childhood deaths from pneumonia globally.
They added: “An estimated 809,000 of these deaths would be averted by significantly scaling up services to prevent and treat pneumonia.
Researchers also found that boosting pneumonia services will create an additional ‘ripple effect’, preventing 1.2 million extra child deaths from other major childhood diseases at the same time.
Interventions like improving nutrition, increasing vaccine coverage or boosting breastfeeding rates are key measures that reduce the risk of children dying from pneumonia.
It will also stop thousands of child deaths from diseases like diarrhea that kills 580,000 children, meningitis 68,000, measles 55,000 and malaria 4,000 children.”
UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria said: “We have a responsibility to do all we can to avert these deaths by pneumonia that could be prevented with concerted action by all players.
“The announcement by the Nigerian government of the world’s first-ever pneumonia control strategy, coupled with the global focus on combating pneumonia, is a huge step forward.
“We now need to follow this with concrete action on the ground to address the causes and drivers of childhood pneumonia deaths in this country.”