Pneumonia causes almost 80,000 child deaths in Pakistan yearly: Dr. Salma.
HYDERABAD -- Professor Dr. Salma Shaikh has said that almost 80,000 children die in Pakistan every year from pneumonia, making it number one killer disease and 7 million children become sick due to it.
Talking to reporter here on Thursday, Dr. Salma Shaikh said that children can be protected from pneumonia by maintaining good health, good immunity and clean environment. All of these can be achieved by breast feeding, proper nutrition and promoting hand washing and controlling indoor pollution.
She said that pneumonia can be prevented by available vaccines, in EPI like Hib, Measles and Pertusis but unfortunately these four vaccines only reach about 50 percent of population.
Dr Salma informed that breast milk is an excellent source of nutrition for babies. Exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of a childs life is one of the best ways to protect children from pneumonia and many other diseases, she added.
Undernourished children are at higher risk for illness and death. In fact, lack of proper nutrition may contribute to more than 1 million deaths from pneumonia early, she added.
She informed that malnutrition weakens childrens immune systems and it also weakens their muscles, making it more difficult to cough and breathe if they are suffering with pneumonia. She informed that babies born with a low birth weight are at risk for pneumonia, other health problems and even death.
Low birth weight is related to the health and nutritional status of mothers. Improving prenatal care for expecting mothers can help reduce the number of babies born with a low birth weight.
She said that in many families, particularly those living in poor and rural communities, there is lack of access to basic medical care for the children and the community health workers can save childrens lives by diagnosing and treating pneumonia, and referring to a health facility if needed.
Dr. Salma said that the doctors usually give antibiotics immediately whenever they suspect bacterial pneumonia even before the bacteria are identified. Prompt treatment with antibiotics helps reduce the severity of pneumonia and the chance of developing complications some of which are fatal, she pointed out.
She said that when choosing an antibiotic, doctors try to predict which type of bacteria is likely to be the cause and the doctor often changes the antibiotic later if the type of bacteria is identified and its susceptibility to various antibiotics becomes known.