The statistics concerning the number of deaths associated with Pneumonia is troubling and with the ignorance of the people concerning health care at an alarming rate, there is need for drastic action to be taken.
In 2015 alone, an estimated 510,000 Nigerians died from Pneumonia. Of this number, over 100,000 were children under 5. It is even scarier to know that Nigeria is only second to India on issues of childhood mortality relating to Pneumonia with an estimated average of 127,000 child deaths per year.
The world Pneumonia day may have come and gone, but there is need to step up efforts to create more awareness concerning this disease that affects the lungs and caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi.
The cliché; “Prevention is better than cure” is popular among Cross Riverians and indeed, Nigerians who have continuously paid only lip service to it, hence the need for a reorientation mechanism.
However, the onus lies on us all to create awareness and let everyone know what causes Pneumonia, it signs and symptoms, curative measures and most importantly, preventive measures.
The signs and symptoms include fever, cough, and fast or difficult breathing in children under 5, though the fever is not very specific, since it occurs in many other common illnesses, may be absent in those with severe disease, malnutrition in the elderly. In addition, a cough is frequently absent in children less than 2 months old. More severe signs and symptoms in children may include a coloured skin, unwillingness to drink, convulsions, ongoing vomiting, extremes of temperature, or a decreased level of consciousness.
The treatment options vary and for the purpose of discouraging self-medication, I will not mention the curative measures but advise Cross Riverians to visit the nearest Primary Health Care Centre or accredited clinic or medical facility.
Preventive measures include avoiding smoking, ensuring personal hygiene, vaccination, prompt seeking of medical attention from accredited medical facilities, consistent washing of hands, and proper ventilation.
If everyone spreads the message after reading it, we will help reduce the mortality rates associated with Pneumonoccocal diseases.
Also, the Cross River State government under the dynamic leadership of Senator Ben Ayade as Governor and his dear wife, Dr. Lind Ayade setting the tone for activities in the health sector passionately driven by my sister and friend, the commissioner for health, Dr. Inyang Asibong and yours sincerely is ready to partner with any group, organization or individual willing to pursue the goal of a healthy Cross River State.
We will continue to strive to make Cross Riverians and Cross River healthier, because every breath counts.
For The After’s: I commend my sister Dr. Rosemary Archibong for organizing an essay competition among students as part of the activities organized by SO-HEALTHI, a Non-Governmental organization she founded to celebrate the 2016 World Pneumonia Day.
Dr. Betta Edu is the maiden Director General of the Cross River State Primary Health Care Development Agency.