At a time when effort to stem the tide of vaccine preventable diseases has been intensified, about 130,000 Nigerian children still lose their lives annually to pneumonia related ailments.
Speaking at a function to mark this year World Pneumonia Day, Executive Director of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Ado Muhammed, said, notwithstanding the introduction of new vaccines, there are still challenges confronting the country in preventing pneumonia.
According to Muhammed, "A staggering 130,000 Nigerian children lose their lives to pneumonia every year, the second highest number of child pneumonia deaths in the world."
He said the number was devastating given that "less than half of all the children with suspected pneumonia related ailments are taken for treatment and just 23 per cent received antibiotics in Nigeria. Pneumonia related death is highest among low income earner families."
To this end, he urged Civil Society Organisations to be more vigilant on the implementation of immunisation programmes,. "They should be our ombudsmen and community liaisons to track programme and policy implementation while at the same time stimulate community demand for immunisation services," Muhammed said.
In order to address the perennial cases of the disease, a director in the agency, Dr. Emmanuel Abanida, told journalists that the government had initiated plans to carry out immunisation in eight states prone to pneumonia.
Abanida explained that with the introduction of Pentavalent Vaccine, which is to be administered in 13 states, pneumonia pandemic would reduce drastically in the country.
The new pneumonia immunisation exercise had been fixed for December 3 in 13 states of the federation.
The event was graced by Emzor Pharmaceuticals officials, health experts and school children from Anglican Girls' Grammar School, Apo, Abuja.