Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs. Anything that actually distracts the lungs is pneumonia. The lung is made up different Alveoli. These alveoli are the tiny cells that air normally get contact with the blood. So infection goes there. The right name is called pneumonitis. There are special micros that affect the lungs, they are called pneumococcus (that’s, germs of the lungs). Tuberculosis also is also a special pneumonia, so is an infection which affects the lungs.
Speaking in this interview Dr Ejike Iheanacho throws more light as he explains why pneumonia is one of the leading causes of death among children.
Pneumonia one of leading cause of death among children. Can you expatiate?
The theme for this year’s World Pneumonia Day, “Stop Pneumonia: Invest in Child Health,” was targeted at raising awareness of the disease, which terminates people quickly especially children. Pneumonia is one of the leading causes of deaths of children under five of age. The yearly campaign is geared towards keeping the government, public health institutions and practitioners, researchers and families on their toes to do the needful and save our children especially from what they have no capacity to neither complain about nor solve by themselves.
What could be the causes of pneumonia
People usually believe cold is the cause of pneumonia, it’s not true, and cold only facilitates it. Pneumonia can be caused by pollution of the air which can be in form of carbon monoxide from the vehicles, dirty environment, industrial emissions and other human activities and land pollution. So people living closer to sewage, canal, and gutter where the environment is highly polluted are prone to suffer pneumonia because they will breathe in contaminated air with germs everywhere.
Another cause of pneumonia is worm. For instance; the Ascaris can cause pneumonia because they affect the lungs. More so, when someone sneezes or coughs in an enclosed place without covering his nostrils and mouth, those white bubbles particles called (Aerozoles) that forms out from his mouth and nose can give his/her neighbours pneumonia especially when the person who coughs has an infection (your neighbour is anyone around you who can be affected by what you do), so when your neighbor breathes in those Aerozoles from another person it goes straight to the lungs which can cause the person pneumonia. You see, our nose has the mechanism to warm the air before it enters into the body, though African nose is not well developed to warm the Air unlike the Europeans who have small but pointed nose, so when they breathe in, the Air is being warmed by the Concha. More so, dust in the environment and compacted living rooms where there is no good ventilation can cause inflammation of the lungs, yes, rain does not cause pneumonia neither do cool weather conditions.
Also, some mistreated or untreated sicknesses like, chicken pots, malaria, typhoid fever especially measles which lowers the immunity of the child can lead to inflammation of the lungs which pneumonia sets.
What is the way out
Immunization is indispensable for every child. We administer different immunization to children at their infant stages from birth. You see, the health scientists are wise, they discovered through Research and Development (R&D) that these kinds of malfunctioning occur in the nearest future of the child because of children immune systems cannot overpower or withstand anything that attacks the body at that age, so immunization becomes indispensable, though we don’t have immunization against pneumococcus but we are for influenza.
Since children are the worst hit, what should parents look out for in children under five, what are those signs parents must be wary of to avoid sudden death since we can’t understand what a child at that age says?
Potential and prospective mothers should read, observe, ask questions and learn from different sources, one must not be a medical practitioner to understand the body changes of her child. Parents must not be too educated to decipher what to do at any slightest abnormal behaviour of a child. The environment is full of knowledge; no one should be totally ignorant of information.
But where you don’t know, please consult a physician.
Some signs howbeit are; for instance when the child begins to cough, but most times there may be no cough but the child begins to breathe faster and begins to feel weak. Unfortunately, self medications has led to the death of so many children because most parents assumes is the weather, especially when it is cold or when the child coughs and begin to treat what they don’t know.
We must note that pneumonia in children does not attack the lungs of the child at first. It comes first through the upper respiratory tract infection, then it affects the trachea, from there it moves to the bronchitis before it settles down in the lungs. Thus; whenever a child suffers any of these as would be determined by medical practitioners, one needs to be careful what to do. Parents must mind how they give their children cough syrup with the aim of suppressing the cough. We must note that children most often clear their airways through coughing. You know children under five, when they cough they swallow, when they cough they swallow, but when you give them cough syrup you are endangering their lives because you are stopping them from coughing and blocking their airways, if that’ happen, the child begins to breathe very fast and restless, so we must be very careful to know if it is dry cough or reproductive cough, if the cough is dry, cough syrup is okay, but if it’s productive (a situation where a child coughs and brings out mucus) and you try to suppress it, the child finds it hard to cough blocking their airways they would start breathing very fast and pneumonia sets in, so we must be very careful in giving children cough syrup. More so, pneumonia can become chronic in a child and he grows with it because the healing at the upper respiratory tract infection was not done properly.
Equally, parents should stop keeping children in a room with all doors and windows closed without fan being on, they belief that children catch pneumonia when exposed to air/breeze. No! That’s an erroneous belief, let the child stay where there’s proper ventilation but not directly under the air conditioner or fan, wearing a child more clothes and closing everywhere does not mean the child is immuned against pneumonia, the act even cause more trouble for the child because he /she does not have a fresh air to breathe.
For adults, what should we do about air pollution and other environmental malodor?
We should do our best to maintain clean environment. The government has its roles in making the environment safe for living but residents cause its own hazards in the environment.
Some parents are ignorant of signs of impending serious disease some even misinterpret the signs, cuts in…
Every parent should deploy its discernment spirit and high level of close observation to differentiate between what is normal and abnormal in the child as they grow. Parents especially mothers/nursing mothers should ask questions learn from older mothers, study, learn and consult a medical practitioner to educate them on what they need to know. And I know most NGOs, CSOs and other medical professionals offer free seminars, organize sensitisation programs to educate women on healthcare both in the churches, at their children schools, so they should avail themselves any opportunity to learn, some of them who can read and write and has smart phones should explore the internet to get abreast of necessary information. Before now we spend much to obtain information but now information comes to us freely from all nooks and crannies.
For adults, how can we guide ourselves and treat when necessary.
We must go for regular checks, and mind what we take in; we must be environmental conscious and avoid anything that would affect our lungs.
In 2001, Nigeria hosted the Heads of State of member- countries of the African Union (AU) which made the “Abuja Declaration” under which the leaders pledged to commit at least 15 per cent of their annual budgets to improving their health sector. Since the declaration, Nigeria has not attained the pledged funding benchmark as the federal government has never voted more than six percent of its annual budget to the health sector. The highest per centage since the declaration was in 2012 when 5.95 per cent of the budget was allotted to health. Various statistics also show that Nigeria has one of the worst health care delivery records in the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Nigeria is rated 187th out of 191 countries in terms of healthcare delivery.
The health body placed Nigeria at third highest in infant mortality rate in the world. WHO stated that each country should earmark a certain amount from its national budget on health according to how the countries prioritize health of its citizens.