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Environmental, personal hygiene help to prevent pneumonia

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Lagos State Ministry of Health, in collaboration with Save the Children International, last Thursday in Alausa, organised an event to mark this year’s World Pneumonia Day to create awareness about the ailment.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Opeyemi Odedere, Child Health and Immunisation Specialist with Save the Children International said pneumonia claims the lives of more children around the world than any other infectious disease. He said an estimated 5.6 million under-five children died globally, and about one million of these deaths were attributed to pneumonia. Most deaths resulting from pneumonia occur in developing countries and about three-quarters take place in just 15 countries. More than half of the world’s annual incident cases occur in just five countries: India, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nigeria, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO)

Quoting WHO, he defined pneumonia as an inflammation of the lungs caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi. He said: “In pneumonia infection, the lungs, which are made up of small sac-like features called alveoli, usually filled with air when a healthy individual breathes, are now filled with pus and fluid, making breathing painful and reducing intake of oxygen. Children can be protected from pneumonia with simple interventions, low-cost treatment, low-tech medication and care.”

Director, Family Health and Nutrition, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Folashade Oludara, said pneumonia accounts for the death of 50 per cent of under-five children, adding that the ministry has started health workers’ capacity building on early identification of symptoms of pneumonia and its treatment. She said Save the Children would be focusing of capacity building of health workers in Ikorodu area of Lagos State in the next three years and improving health facilities within the local government.

The director stated that primary prevention of pneumonia starts with good sanitation, increased personal hygiene, especially those that are handling under-five children. She said: “They should imbibe the culture of hand washing, especially after using the toilet and before cooking food for these children. People should ensure they parboil water before drinking. They should also avoid cooking food inside house, so that smoke will not damage the children’s lungs.”


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