Written by Ijeoma UKAZU

400, 000 children die from diarrhoea, pneumonia in Nigeria annually

As Nigeria joins the rest of the world in commemoration of the 2016 International World Water Day, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, and Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health, PACFaH, has revealed that about 400, 000 Nigerian children die from diarrhoea and pneumonia, annually.

Program director, PACFaH, Mrs. Chinwe Onumonu, disclosed this at a press conference in Lagos while citing a 2013 Nigeria Demographic Health Survey, NDHS, report.

She said the ultimate goal of the theme of the 2016 World Water Day: “Better Water, Better Jobs,” cannot be achieved until preventable deaths are jointly eliminated by providing safe water for use, adding that childhood pneumonia and diarrhoea are responsible for 16 percent and 19 percent under five deaths, respectively.

She however said that the country’s under five years’ mortality rate currently stand at an alarming 128 deaths per 1, 000 live births, adding that it implies that one in every eight children born in Nigeria will die before reaching their fifth birthday, saying it is unacceptable and fortunately, avoidable.

Onumonu stated that "the preventive methods for eliminating childhood pneumonia and diarrhoea, and by extension drastically reducing under five mortality are: exclusive six months breastfeeding, which will boost the child’s immunity against common childhood diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhoea hereby saving approximately 800, 000 under-5 years’ a massive 12 percent drop in child mortality.

"Proper hand washing by the use of running water and soap or ash is estimated to reduce incidents of childhood diarrhoea by 30 percent and respiratory infections (Pneumonia) by 21 percent in under-five children.

"Completion of the routine immunization schedule for infants and children especially the recently introduced pneumococcal vaccines and rotavirus vaccines would drastically reduce the incidence of childhood pneumonia and diarrhoea in Nigeria; proper and adequate nutrition are essential for the prevention of the childhood killer diseases."

In his words, the PSN/ PACFaH’s programme officer, Dr. David Akpotor, advised that the adoption and implementation of global recommendations and guidelines, especially the 2012 United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities, UNCoLSC, which were reviewed and approved by the World Health Organization, WHO, United Nations Children’s Funds, UNICEF, and the Paediatric Association of Nigeria, PAN, for the treatment of childhood pneumonia and diarrhoea.

He however advocate for adequate and wide-spread training to ensure that frontline health workers are knowledgeable about diagnosing correctly and effectively treating childhood pneumonia and diarrhoea using amoxicillin dt and zinc/lo-ors, respectively.

He said that the aforementioned preventive and treatment measures when fully adopted and implemented, will bring drastic reduction in childhood mortality rates.

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