A medical doctor has advised on how to prevent the death of children from pneumonia in Nigeria.
Isah Adamu, who is the Chief of Party, INSPIRING Project, Save the Children International Nigeria, gave the advice on Tuesday in Dutse, Jigawa State.
He spoke at an event to disseminate information on the world’s first-ever National Integrated Pneumonia Control Strategy and Implementation Plan.
Mr Adamu said children can be protected against pneumonia through immunisation, such as with the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) and Hib vaccines, reduction of household air pollution (particularly from cooking smoke) and improved nutrition.
He said the National Integrated Pneumonia Control Strategy, which is being implemented in Jigawa and Lagos states, should be scaled up across Nigeria.
“We believe that efforts to control pneumonia must not only seek to equip hospitals or train healthcare workers but also engage communities and strengthen their capacities in addressing harmful norms, behaviours and practices that put children at greater risk,” the official said.
Mr Adamu said the integrated strategy prioritises proven interventions that demonstrate the most potential to reduce disabilities and deaths from pneumonia.
“The strategy seeks to strengthen the enabling environment (policy and financing, data and information systems, coordination and partnerships), demand-side (community prevention and care-seeking) and supply-side (service delivery, supply and distribution) aspects of pneumonia control.
“Save the Children through the GSK partnership is confident that Jigawa state will take the lead among all other states in Nigeria towards adoption, prioritization and implementation of the integrated pneumonia control strategy and implementation plan as part of its aim towards ending preventable child deaths,” Mr Adamu said.
“Save the Children calls on the Jigawa state government to speed up the process of implementing the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF) and ensure equitable access to healthcare, especially for children and families at the local levels to reduce, if not eliminate out-of-pocket expenditures.
“Save the Children and partners, is committed to continued collaboration with the Jigawa state government and contribute towards an accelerated reduction in child deaths,” Mr Adamu said.
In his contribution, the Acting Country Director, Save the Children International Nigeria, Amaneul Mamo, said like many other diseases, pneumonia is fueled by socio-cultural and socio-economic barriers and inequities that put children from low-income families at the greatest risk of pneumonia deaths.
Mr Mamo said although pneumonia is preventable and treatable, Nigeria’s weakened health system, particularly at the primary healthcare level, means that more children will not have access to timely care.
“The National Integrated Pneumonia Control Strategy delivers tangible priorities and recommendations; as well as coordination and accountability mechanisms to strengthen pneumonia control in a manner that is integrated into existing child health policies and strategies in Nigeria.
“This emphasises that this strategy does not prioritize pneumonia-focused programming, or isolated approaches, but calls for a strong coalition of partners to put pneumonia on the map and ensure funding and progress matches its disease burden.
“It is not acceptable to see that millions of children are dying every year from a disease that we have the knowledge and resources to defeat. We only need more commitment and dedication to ending the killer disease.
“We have resolved, in line with the vision of our funder, that, we will continue to do our best through a partnership with our allies like GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and in collaboration with the government to ensure that children who are suffering from pneumonia have access to vaccines, antibiotics and oxygen, which are essential to stop the scourge of pneumonia,” Mr Mamo said.
The Pneumonia control strategy
In 2020, Nigeria became the First Country to Launch a National Integrated Pneumonia Control Strategy and Implementation Plan. The strategy was developed through a multi-stakeholder collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and the ‘Every Breath Counts Coalition.
According to Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2018, the under-five death rate is 132 per 100,000 live birth. Childhood Pneumonia is one of the leading causes of these deaths.
Lack of access to vaccines, antibiotics and oxygen, indoor air pollution, and malnutrition are among major drivers of preventable deaths from pneumonia.
Save the Children International, Nigeria was the first to start state-level dissemination of the National Integrated Pneumonia Control Strategy and Implementation Plan, which was launched by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) in 2020.
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