…As save the children urges Nigeria, others to fight disease

Pneumonia is set to kill nearly 11 million children around the world by 2030, research has shown.

According to the study, based on current infection rates, Nigeria, India, Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo will be the four countries worst hit.

Forecasts by John Hopkins University revealed that more than a third of these deaths – 4.1 million – could be avoided by vaccination, effective treatment or good nutrition.

The researchers predicted future global rates of pneumonia alongside experts from Save the Children in a model they called the Lives Saved Tool.

Results show that based on current trends, 10,865,728 children will die from pneumonia in the next 12 years.

Nigeria will have the most fatalities at 1,730,000, followed by India (1,710,000), Pakistan (706,000) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (635,000).

But scaling up vaccination so it covers 90 per cent of children under five could save 610,000 lives.

As the world marks the World Pneumonia Day, experts on Monday urged Nigeria and other countries to step up fight against Pnuemonia. To mark the day, Save the Children International and the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health launched the Pnuemonia Global Report at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja on Monday.

Save the Children International is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and has been operating in Nigeria since 2001.

The report titled “Fighting for Breath, A Call to Action in Childhood Pneumonia,” noted that the disease killed about 920,000 children in 2015.

It said about 5.3million lives could be saved from pneumonia over the next 15 years but about 735,000 children could die in 2030 alone if the current trend of treatment and prevention remains.

Speaking at the event, Save the Children International’s Country Director, Ben Foot, said although lots of lives would be saved by immunising children against the disease, about 170 million children globally are yet to receive the vaccine.

Mr Foot said said one million lives could be saved in the next five years from Pneumonia prevention and treatment, noting that two children under five die from the infection every minute.

He urged governments, NGOs, CSOs and the private sector to come together to tackle the killer disease.

The President of the National Medical Association (NMA), Francis Faduyile, said the “silent killer” places a huge burden on families and the health system in Nigeria.

He said Nigeria is one of the 15 countries responsible for 70 per cent of global deaths attributable to pneumonia and diarrhea among under five.

Mr Faduyile, who was represented at the event by Mustapha Yahaya, urge a review of the National Health Insurance Act to make health insurance mandatory for all Nigerians.

This, he said, is the surest way to achieve Universal Health Coverage.

The Country Representative, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Paulin Basinga, said pneumonia should be considered number one problem in Nigeria.

Represented by Yusuf Yusufari, Mr Basinga said his organisation is committed to helping children in Nigeria and will support the fight against pneumonia.

He noted that the coverage of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) in Nigeria is still very low, warning that no progress can be made under that situation.

He urged the federal government and other partners to ensure every child in Nigeria is immunised.

In his remarks, the Country Representative, UNICEF, Mohammed Fall, said everyday should be considered world pneumonia day because the disease is the leading cause of death of children all over the world.

Represented by Sanjana Bhardwaj, chief of Health, UNICEF, Mr Fall said a combined effort from all partners will lead to zero pneumonia in Nigeria and even in the world.