With an estimated 162,000 children that reportedly died of pneumonia in Nigeria in 2018, the country has been said to have the highest number of pneumonia deaths globally.
A new report by Save the Children revealed that globally, 802,000 children under the age of five died from pneumonia in 2018 and five of the countries are responsible for more than half of the deaths. Nigeria accounts for 162,000 deaths, India 127,000, Pakistan 58,000, Democratic of Congo 40,000 and Ethiopia 32,000 deaths.
Chief Executive Officer, Save the Children, Kevin Watkins, who spoke at a news conference to mark the World Pneumonia Day yesterday in Abuja, lamented that pneumonia is the world’s leading infectious killer of children under the age five, yet not so much attention is paid to the killer disease even though it could be prevented through vaccination.
Watkins said that data got from United Nations (UN) Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation 2019 and Save the Children’s Child Inequality Tracker lamented that the disease is a forgotten global health epidemic that demands a greater international response; millions of children are dying for want of vaccines, affordable antibiotics and routine oxygen treatment.
He said that recent analysis found out that Nigerian children born in poorest households were nearly three times more likely to die from diseases like pneumonia before their fifth birthday compared to the children born in rich households, adding that pneumonia crisis is a symptom of neglect and indefensible inequalities in access to healthcare.
He, therefore, stressed that investment in the health sector was very critical as the current three percent budget allocation was not enough to tackle the menace. He said that more than 40 percent of one-year-old children in Nigeria were unvaccinated and three in four children suffering from pneumonia symptoms do not get access to medical treatment, saying that there was need to ensure that vaccines get to the poorest of the poor to curb the disease.