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Fighting Pneumonia, the Silent Killer of Children

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Pneumonia is a deadly disease that is usually overlooked because of lack of knowledge. Often times, children are wrongly diagnosed and treated for malaria in Nigeria. Consequently, its victims are left without adequate care, resulting in death.

As part of activities to mark this year’s World Pneumonia Day last Friday, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) ,Vaccine Network for Disease Control, made a tremendous effort to raise awareness about the disease.

Vaccine Network organized an event in Abuja, which called on the Federal Government to make anti-pneumonia vaccines available at no cost. The event was made lively with the inclusion of children in fashion shows, dancing competition and other fun activities.

Director of Vaccine Network for Disease Control, Mrs. Chika Offor being interviewed


Director of Vaccine Network Mrs. Chika Offor, explained why the organization decided to start a campaign using a different method. She observed that discussions on health issues appear quite unattractive to people due to unfamiliar medical terminologies used by experts.

It is therefore important to simplify the language of diseases in a way and manner that people can easily relate to, she argued. The message has to be attractive to the target audience, she said.

“We have tried to simplify and creatively make the campaign against pneumonia interesting. People have to be interested in whatever we want to put on the table, that is why we are doing a fashion show. While doing a fashion show, we are still sending the message on pneumonia: the symptoms, prevention and cure,” she explained.

Offor stated that people from villages around Abuja were included in the campaign in order to extend the reach of its work to as many communities as possible. Vaccine Network, she said, collaborates with other NGO’s to achieve its objectives.  One of such groups is the John Hopkins University, United States of America, which supports its work to help Nigerian families fight the disease.

“That is why we named our NGO a network, a network of interested Nigerians and other people who are willing to improve the health of the Nigerian child,” explained the director.

The NGO creates awareness on causes, effects and prevention of the disease, which is the number one killer of children in the world. In addition, it encourages individuals, corporate groups and organizations to adopt villages where the message could be spread by way of getting the vaccine to those that need it.

In the last one year, Vaccine Network has carried out outreach programmes to villages close to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).  It collaborates with the village heads and chiefs to reach parents and convince them to make their children available for vaccination.  This method could be replicated nationwide, said Offor. Chidlren from most of those villages were invited for the national pneumonia day event last week.

The Pediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN) urged the government to promptly respond to issues relating to pneumonia.

Treasurer for Pediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN), Dr. (mrs) Muktar Yola at the event

PAN Treasurer Dr. (mrs) Muktar Yola advised the government to provide routine vaccines against tuberculosis, measles, and pneumonia organism. She said unnecessary death of children should be avoided at all cost.

Yola advised parents to exclusively breastfeed their children for at least six months. It is also important to provide adequate nutrition for those of them under the age of five. In addition, clean water and good hand washing practices among young children is necessary to fight the disease, she stated.

The PAN treasurer advised parents to refer all cases relating to pneumonia to the hospital for prompt attention at an early stage.

“Every 20 seconds the world over, a child dies from pneumonia. In every way possible, we should reach out to people and policy makers so that actions can be taken to reduce unnecessary death. We need to make as much noise as possible in a way that it will appeal to as many people as possible to make people realize that pneumonia is killing our children,” she said

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Updated 7 Years ago

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Tags:     Pneumonia     children diseases