Pneumonia kills over 72,000 children in Pakistan yearly

KARACHI: An estimated three million pneumonia cases are reported in Pakistan every year, out of which over 72,000 children of less than five years of age die annually due to the infection.

Renowned Pediatrician Prof Dr Iqbal Memon said while talking to PPI in connection with the World Pneumonia Day being observed on 12th November. He said that the day is observed to raise awareness about pneumonia as a public health issue and help prevent millions of deaths from the infection. He said theme of this year’s day is “Universal Access to Pneumonia Prevention & Care”.

He said pneumonia is a form of acute respiratory infection that affects lungs, making breathing painful and limiting oxygen intake. He said pneumonia is the biggest killer of children in Pakistan and also in worldwide. He said Pakistan ranks number 4th in world in pneumonia death and disease cases. He said this is a preventable and treatable illness through vaccines, antibiotics treatment and improved vaccination.

He said approximately 0.8 to one million cases of pneumonia occur in Sindh province annually, out of which 22,000 to 25,000 die. He said peak season of pneumonia cases begin with start of autumn and continue in winter season.

He said infants and children below two years of age are at higher risk of contracting pneumonia as their immune systems are still developing. He said one in every 5th child under five is pneumonia death which is preventable through proper vaccination.

He said malnutrition, environmental factors such as indoor air pollution caused by cooking fires such as wood or dung, a coal, living in crowded homes and parental smoking increase the risk of contracting pneumonia to children. He said bottle-feeding is also major reason behind occurrence of pneumonia cases in children.

He said symptoms of pneumonia in children include rapid or difficult breathing, cough, fever, chills, headaches, loss of appetite and wheezing. He said deaths occurring from pneumonia are preventable and disease is treatable through vaccination.

He urged parents to ensure timely visits to the EPI centers and get their children vaccinated against pneumonia and other deadly diseases for free. He said excellent coverage of routine vaccines is our duty and right of our children.

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