More effort is required in containing pneumonia cases so that children under five years old are cushioned from the condition.
The Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr. Mercy Mwangangi says Pneumonia is the leading cause of death in these children despite it being an easily preventable and treatable condition.
While addressing World Pneumonia Day Thursday at Kiambu level 5 hospital, the CAS noted that although vaccines and other preventive efforts were decreasing the burden of the disease, more effort was required.
She noted that in 2018, pneumonia accounted for almost 9,000 deaths in children under five years in Kenya which is approximately one child every hour. “Every child, regardless of where they are born, deserves access to prevention, protection and treatment interventions for pneumonia” noted Dr. Mwangangi.
Kenya, she observed, had made steady progress in improving child health outcomes in the last decade during which child mortality declined by almost 30 per cent since 2008.She attributed this to the increase uptake of ORS and Zinc used to the management of diarrhea in children under 5 years and improved exclusive breastfeeding practices.
She noted that introduction of new childhood vaccines like pneumococcal and rotavirus and increased use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and the scale up of skilled birth delivery had roundly contributed to the improved health care for the children.
Dr. Mwangangi stated that Kenya is a signatory to the Global Action Plan for Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea. This, she noted, had been adopted in the country as the Kenya Action plan for Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (KAPPD), which is the national blueprint towards accelerated action in the reduction of child mortality.
She commended partners and other stakeholders for the role they have played in supporting the government’s efforts towards improvement of the health of new-borns, children and adolescents in this country. “Committing investment in Newborn and Child Health(NCH) is key to the achievement of vision 2030 and a priority for the government of Kenya as reflected in the constitution and Agenda 4 and the UHC” Dr. Mwangangi said.
In his address, the Governor of Kiambu Dr. James Nyoro noted that as we grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic, marking the pneumonia day creates an opportunity to engage as key stakeholders in the fight against respiratory infections and death including those caused by Covid-19.
Kiambu has a population of 2.4 million people and of these, the governor noted that children under the age of five years account for 11.5 per cent (about 284,000). He observed that in the last financial year of 2019-2020, 3000 of our children in the county suffered pneumonia and that 131 succumbed to the disease.
By Lydia Shiloya