Somalia: Pneumonia, the forgotten killer disease in Somalia

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By Save the Children
Pneumonia kills more than two children every hour in Somalia

GAROWE, Puntland - Pneumonia kills more than two children every hour in Somalia, even though it can be treated with antibiotics costing as little as USD 50 cents, says Save the Children new report.

The report, Fighting for Breath is part of the global report launched today 2nd November 2017, which also marks the launch of Save the Children’s effort against pneumonia, which aims to save a million lives in the next five years. In Somalia, the report was launched in Garowe, Puntland by the Minister of Health, Hon Dr. Abdinasir Osman Isse.

The report indicates that 14,561 Somali children succumbed to pneumonia in 2015 alone – which is more than two children dying every hour. This implies 24% of all under-five mortality is due to pneumonia. The situation may get worse if drastic measures are not taken to save children’s lives. “The Government has prioritized prevention and treatment of pneumonia. However, we cannot do it alone. We need all the key stakeholders to join efforts and ensure children have access to quality health services at all levels of service delivery,” says Hon. Dr. Abdinasir Osman Isse.

The developing countries fight Pneumonia, the largest single killer of children around the world

The Minister also added that there is a need to increase investment in the primary health care systems as well as prioritize effective prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment of pneumonia. ‘The situation is worse in Somalia. Food shortages as a result of drought in the country has left millions of children malnourished; making them more vulnerable to diseases including pneumonia, said Abdiqafar Hange, the Area Representative for Save the Children Puntland. “We are doing all it takes to save these children. We should not ignore pneumonia at this critical time.

At the global level this ‘forgotten child killer’, is responsible for the deaths of more children under five than any other disease—more than malaria, diarrhea and measles combined.
More than 80% of the victims are children under two years old, many with immune systems weakened by malnutrition or insufficient breastfeeding and unable to fight the infection. Infants are at their most vulnerable in the first weeks of life.

Save the Children is calling for 166 million under-twos to be immunized and for action to help 400 million worldwide with no access to health care. Half of all mothers in Africa have no health care around the time of birth.

Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General and Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation, who is backing the global effort, said the cost of vaccines—$9.15 in poor countries—was too high. ‘Pharmaceutical companies, governments, aid donors and UN agencies need to come together to make the vaccine prices more affordable to save more lives,’ he added.

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