Pneumonia accounts for 20% deaths in children – Deputy Minister
Pneumonia accounts for 20 per cent of all children’s under five death cases worldwide though it can be prevented with a simple intervention and treatment, Deputy Minister of Women and Children and Affairs (MOWAC), Hajia Hawawu Boya Gariba, on Saturday said.
She noted that although the disease could be prevented by immunization, adequate nutrition and by addressing environmental factors such as enforcing smoke-free laws and patient–safety practices, it still claimed the life of a child every 15 seconds and two million children under five every year.
This she said was more than HIV/AIDs, malaria and measles combined.
The Deputy Minister expressed the sentiments when she launched this year’s World Pneumonia Day in Cape Coast, in the Central Region under the theme: “I Am the Face of Pneumonia”.
The launch was organized by Afro Global Alliance (AGA), a non governmental organization, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health to create awareness on the causes and prevention of Pneumonia among Ghanaians, especially children under five.
Pneumonia is a lung infection that can be caused by different types of microorganisms including bacteria, virus and fungi.
Hajia Gariba said the prevention of pneumonia in children was an essential component of a strategy to reduce child mortality and morbidity and therefore appealed to all stakeholders to become agents of change to help eliminate pneumonia from the country.
She said to ensure the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) four, it was imperative for all stakeholders to join forces with child health advocates to sensitize the public on how to prevent the disease and protect the lives of children.
The Deputy Minister regretted that though pneumonia was a silent killer disease among young children, awareness of the causes and prevention of the disease had not been in the limelight and gave the assurance that the Ministry would collaborate with the Ghana Health service to promote child health.
Chief Austin Arinze Obiefuna, Project Coordinator of the World Pneumonia, said it was sad and shocking that despite the advance of modern medicine, many people still died of pneumonia.
He said the disease was among the most solvable problems in global health and yet it remained the leading infectious killer of young children in the world.
According to him, in Ghana, pneumonia had been rated the leading cause of under-five morbidity and mortality with an upsetting annual death toll record of 16,200 children deaths per year.
“This is a serious problem because fighting pneumonia is a critical strategy for the country to attain the MDGs,” he added.
The Central Regional Minister, Ama Benyiwa-Doe, in a speech read for her, thanked the AGA for selecting Cape Coast for the launch and called on the private sector to partner government to acquire potent drugs that would help cure the disease.