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Expert says illness is the biggest killer of under-5 children globally

It has been reported that pneumonia sickens 155 million children under five and kills 1.6 million each year.

All Nigerian children under the age of one are expected to be vaccinated for Pneumonia as from December 15, 2014

Ojo disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, ahead of the World Pneumonia Day 2016, scheduled for Nov. 12.

She explained that nearly one in five children die globally from pneumonia every year, adding that it is a preventable and treatable illness with improved sanitation, vaccines and antibiotic treatment.

NAN reports that Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia released by WHO and UNICEF says globally, pneumonia sickens 155 million children under five and kills 1.6 million each year.

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This makes pneumonia the number one killer of children under five, claiming more young lives than AIDS, malaria and measles.

The report added that one million children’s lives could be saved every year if prevention and treatment interventions for pneumonia were widely introduced in the world’s poorest countries.

Ojo further explained that pneumonia was an acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs, making breathing painful and limiting oxygen intake.

“Pneumonia is a viral infection of the lungs which may occur after having cold or flu, causing difficulty in breathing.

“The risk factors include cigarettes smoking, respiratory infection, chronic lung disease or diabetes, among others.

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“To prevent pneumonia, it is important to keep our environment clean while maintaining personal hygiene, avoid smoking to prevent the spread of the viruses,’’ Ojo said.

She listed cough, fever, shortness of breath and cold, difficulty swallowing as some of the common symptoms of the infection.

The physician said the symptoms could be mild or severe depending on the health condition and age of the patient.

Ojo said that there are effective vaccines against the two most common causes of pneumonia, which include Haemophilus influenzae type B and Streptococcus pneumonia.

She advised both children and adults to be immunised against the deadly disease as well as consult their doctors during any outbreak of the infection.

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NAN reports that this year’s event has “Innovate to End Child Pneumonia’’ as its theme.

The day is celebrated to help bring the health crisis to public attention while encouraging policy makers and health professionals combat the disease.

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