Save the Children International (SCI), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), has called on the Federal Government and partners to accelerate action to end child death resulting from pneumonia.
The NGO made the call in a statement on Friday, in Dutse, by its Media and Communications Manager, Mr Kunle Olawoyin, in commemoration of the 2021 World Pneumonia Day whose theme was: ”Pneumonia and Air Pollution”.
According to Olawoyin, at least one child dies every minute from pneumonia, a largely preventable and treatable disease.
“More than 50 per cent of children around the world are not fully protected with the Pneumococcal (PCV) vaccine.
“Every year, an estimated 4.2 million children in low and middle-income countries, who have low levels of oxygen in their blood, require urgent oxygen treatment to survive.
“Almost a third of all pneumonia deaths are caused by air pollution. The climate crisis is a child rights crisis and poses a serious threat to children’s health and well-being. It is an unprecedented threat to all children and young people.
“On the occasion of the World Pneumonia Day, Save the Children International is calling on the Nigerian Government and partners to accelerate action towards ending child death from pneumonia, the largest infectious killer disease of children under the age of five,” he said.
The communication manager quoted the 2019 Global Burden of Disease survey as saying that air pollution was responsible for almost a third of all pneumonia deaths.
”Pneumonia is a disease of inequality and thousands of children die each day across the globe, from this preventable and treatable disease.
“These children are dying due to a combination of factors, which includes living in homes that regularly use polluting fuels for cooking, heating and lighting. This is the situation for many households and families in Nigeria”.
He said that pneumonia could be treated if sick children had access to timely care such as oxygen and antibiotics.
He further stated that although one of the best tools to prevent pneumonia existed, the COVID-19 pandemic had disrupted immunization services, leaving millions of children at greater risk of missing out on critical vaccinations, such as PCV.
Mrs Mercy Gichuhi, the NGO’s Country Director, said that this year’s event reminded all of the collective responsibility to take action and confront the challenge.
Gichuhi said that it was denying children the chance of celebrating their fifth birthday and urged stakeholders not to allow this to continue.
”We all must work together to protect the future, by ensuring that children born today survive their fifth birthday,” she said.
The NGO boss, therefore, called on governments and partners to strengthen and prioritize routine immunization, scaling up access to essential vaccines, including PCV, to ensure that every child was protected. (NAN)