By Sola Ogundipe
Towards addressing the menace of childhood pneumonia in Nigeria, the Federal government has been tasked to expedite action on the completion of medical oxygen plants across the 36 states of the Federation including the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and Abuja.
Calling for speedy completion of the projects, the groups recognized the need to speed up work on the plants in order to meet the set targets even as they argued that mothers and care-givers should be encouraged to upgrade their health seeking behaviour towards reducing pneumonia cases.
Pneumonia, an inflammatory condition of the lungs, kills 2000 children aged under-5 daily globally, but medical oxygen is an essential part of treatment for their survival.
In a communique issued at the end of a two-day media round table organised by Save the Children International Nigeria for Media Working Groups in Jigawa and Lagos states, participants at the meeting charged government and health professionals to ensure deeper collaboration with the media to enhance reportage of issues on pneumonia.
At the meeting, the groups resolved that the impact, success stories, challenges and lessons learnt from the intervention on pneumonia by the INSPIRING Project in Kiyawa Local Government of Jigawa State, and in Ikorodu Local Government of Lagos State, should be continually monitored and reviewed.
According to the Head, Child Survival, Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, Dr Omokore Oluseyi Amos, the Federal government had made available 68 oxygen plants at health centres across the country, with the plan that each state would get at least two plants.
He added that the apex Ministry had recognised pneumonia as the most dangerous killer disease even as he confirmed the existence a budget line for child survival, but noted that the release of funds remained the challenge.
He said the FMOH, in collaboration with SCI Nigeria and other partners had developed the workable strategies for completion of the projects, among others being implemented in Jigawa and Lagos states.
Omokore said there was need to speed up action in order to meet the set target, and argued that the approach in developing the strategy and implementing was a good move.
In a presentation entitled “Situational Analysis of Management of Childhood Pneumonia in Nigeria, the National President of the Paediatric Association of Nigeria, PAN, Dr Ikuren Iyornenge, said the current situation of the National Demographic Health Survey, NDHS, showed that pneumonia has been neglected from the perspective of Under-5 strategy and government intervention.
He regretted that pneumonia had been neglected, but assured that the Federal government and other partners are working to reduce the statistics.
In the last 10 years, there were 104 deaths per 1000 live births, which dropped to about 96 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2015, and then in 2018 it went back up to 110 deaths per 1,000 live births.
In assessing the resurgence, he said the PAN looked at where the children were dying and why they were dying and discovered that 64 percent of under-5 deaths was occurring at home, 32 percent died on the way to the hospital, and 20 percent in the secondary or tertiary facilities.
He said the PAN found paucity of skilled health workers at the primary facilities and some of the secondary facilities. Among other factors examined were availability of oxygen, pulse oximeters, the referral system and the method of referring between the secondary and tertiary facilities, the accessibility to the referral centres, and availability of medication.
Iyornenge harped on immunisation and breastfeeding as being key to eradication of pneumonia even as he explained that lack of full immunisation was one of the definitive factors driving factors driving the resurgence in childhood pneumonia.
He said at the paediatric outpatient clinic, the primary nurses are specifically trained to enable mothers complete their babies’ immunisation schedules through enlightenment campaigns.
The Child Health officer of the Lagos State Ministry of Health, Mrs Toyeebat Ogungbayi, Lagos has done many supervisory visits and found out in Ikorodu LGA where trials are being carried out, and 91 per cent of health workers know about oxygen use while 51 percent know of availability of pulse oximeter.
She said the state is drawing up a multisectoral pneumonia strategic plan to consolidate the successes of the immunisation programmes.
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