92,000 children die of pneumonia annually in Pakistan

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Professor at Pediatrics Department, Civil Hospital Karachi Prof Dr Ayesha Mehnaz on Tuesday said an estimated 92,000 children die of pneumonia in Pakistan every year and country still stands in top five countries which account for 99 percent of childhood pneumonia cases.

This she said while addressing a press conference at Karachi Press Club to mark World Pneumonia Day, which is being observed every year on 12 November globally. The media briefing was organized by Pakistan Pediatric Association (PPA) to raise awareness of pneumonia, and promote prevention and treatment. Dr Ayesha, who is also General Secretary of PPA Central, hailed the efforts for organizing the program to increase awareness among the community and said the World Pneumonia Day is the vibrant occasion that can be used as a platform to impart and share knowledge for the fight against deadly disease of pneumonia.

She said that it is very unfortunate that despite pneumonia vaccine is available in EPI program for free, 46% of the child population in Pakistan still remains non-immunized, leading to child mortality. While talking about its symptoms amongst children, she said symptoms of pneumonia may vary depending upon the type of pathogen. However, the most common symptoms include rapid or difficult breathing, cough, fever, chills, headaches, loss of appetite and wheezing.

Prof Dr Jalal Akbar stressed the need for early treatment of pneumonia as saying it kills more children than AIDS, malaria and measles. He said pneumonia accounts for 18% of the total child deaths making it the leading killer of children under 5 years of age. Pneumonia accounts for more than 1.3 million deaths among children under 5 years of age. He said pneumonia is most prevalent in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa and in every 30 seconds, pneumonia claims an innocent child’s life. Each year, there are more than 150 million episodes of pneumonia in young children in developing countries, he added.

He said parents should take their children to nearest Expanded Program on immunization centers for the vaccination which is free of cost. He informed that pneumonia vaccine was introduced in Pakistan’s EPI program in October, 2012. Preventing pneumonia averts treatment costs, and allows children to become healthy, productive adults. Senior Pediatrician Dr Saleem Paryani emphasized on parents to play their part in controlling and eliminating life-threatening infectious diseases and said vaccines are the one of the most cost-effective health investments. He said vaccine plays a major role in eliminating and preventing diseases and every year approximately 3,000,000 deaths are prevented and 750,000 children are saved from disability.

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