As Kenya gears up for the World Pneumonia Day calls have been made to make prevention a priority.
Speaking during the World Pneumonia Day breakfasting meeting on Tuesday, Acting Health Director General Patrick Amoth urged stakeholders to join hands in the fight against the deadly disease which causes between 8000 to 10,000 annual childhood deaths in Kenya representing about 1 in 5 of all child deaths.
Amoth noted that immunization against the two common bacteria which cause pneumonia can significantly reduce the risk of the disease.
“Immunization against the 2 common bacteria which cause pneumonia (Streptococcus pneumoniae) and Hemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), has been shown to result in 22–35% reduction in incidence of pneumonia and 4% reduction in all child deaths,” said Amoth.
“The national government and county governments are working to increase full immunization coverage to more than 90% from the current 80%,” he added
Amoth said the government will rely on Community Health Promoters to educate communities on Pneumonia prevention and protection measures.
“If we succeed in reducing pneumonia deaths, we shall increase the chances of meeting the global target of reducing under 5 mortalities to less than 25 deaths per 1000 live births by 2030, from the current 41 deaths per 1000 live births,” said Amoth.
He further called upon communities to prioritize hygiene practices such as handwashing, wearing of masks when one has a cough, and good ventilation help to prevent the spread of infectious agents that lead to pneumonia.
“Parents and caregivers, you are the frontline defenders of your children’s health. Be vigilant and seek medical attention promptly if you notice any signs of pneumonia like cough with difficulty in breathing, fast breathing, fever, altered consciousness of poor feeding,” urged Amoth.
Globally, Pneumonia killed 2.5 million people in 2019 and almost a third of all victims were children younger than 5 years, accounting for more than 700,000 deaths annually.
Pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of death among children under 5 worldwide, causing about 15% of deaths among children under 5 years.