Pneumonia kills 92,000 children of below 5-year of age annually in Pakistan

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As the world is marking Global Pneumonia Day on Nov 12, 2017 (today), doctors and health experts have called for concerted efforts to wipe out pneumonia from the country. Pakistan is among top 5 countries which account for 99pc of childhood pneumonia cases and around 92,000 children under-5-years of age die of Pneumonia annually in Pakistan’, this was revealed by leading pediatricians here on Saturday.
Professor Dr. Rai Muhammad Asghar, President Pakistan Paediatric Association (PPA) Central and Dean of Pediatrics at Rawalpindi Medical University and Allied Hospital, said according to World Health Organization estimates, pneumonia accounts for 16pc of the total child deaths making it the leading killer of children less than 5 years of age. ‘Globally, Pneumonia accounts for more than 920,000 deaths among children under- 5,’ said he. Free vaccine against pneumonia is available under Extended Program for Immunization (EPI) and loss of precious lives can be prevented, he added.
‘Pneumonia is a form acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs. When an individual has pneumonia, the alveoli (small sacs in lungs which fill with air when a healthy person breathes) are filled with pus and fluid, which makes breathing painful and limits oxygen intake. It is to be noted that vaccines are considered second only to clean drinking water in reducing infectious diseases,’ he added.
‘Children under five with severe cases of pneumonia may struggle to breathe, with their chests moving in or retracting during inhalation (known as ‘lower chest wall in drawing’). Young infants may suffer convulsions, unconsciousness, hypothermia, lethargy and feeding problem,’ said Professor Rai.
Prof. Dr. Shahzad Munir, President PPA Federal said, ‘Pneumonia is caused by a number of infectious agents, including viruses, bacteria and fungi. The most common causes of pneumonia amongst children include: Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).
He added, ‘Preventing children from developing pneumonia in the first place is critical to reducing its death toll. Fortunately Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (pneumonia vaccine) was introduced in Pakistan’s EPI program in October, 2012, and this achievement made Pakistan to become the first South Asian country to include PCV in its national immunization program,’ he added.