By MOHAMMED SABIU
President of the Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN), Professor Edward Alikor, has disclosed that an estimated 162,000 children below the age of five, die annually in the country as a result of pneumonia. He made this assertion during the celebration of World Pneumonia Day held in Kaduna, on Thursday.
Represented by the president-elect, Professor Olufemi Ogunrinde, Alikor said Nigeria was one of the countries that produced the largest number of children dying before their fifth birthday. According to him, pneumonia was an infection and inflammation disease which had become the greatest killer of children in the country.
According to the president, with the coming of the COVID-19, the number might increase since victims of pneumonia might be prone to the virus’ attack. He said there was an urgent need to recognise pneumonia as one of the deadly diseases now living with us, as the last survey conducted by Demographic and Health Survey in 2018, did not list pneumonia.
“We are saying the next survey should look critically at the situation,” he said. Earlier, Kaduna State Commissioner for health, Dr Amina Baloni, said pneumonia accounted for 13 per cent of deaths of children in the state.
However, she observed that the celebration of the World Pneumonia Day helped to bring this kind of information to the front burner and promote actions that could swiftly bring the situation under control. She stated that the state government had since embarked on immunisation to tackle the three diseases confronting children – diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia, saying already, 1,000 communities had been earmarked for the exercise.