Save the Children International Nigeria, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), on Monday, stressed the need for vaccines to get to the poorest of the poor to curb pneumonia disease.
Mr Kevin Watkins, the Chief Executive Director, Save the Children UK, said this at a news conference to mark the World Pneumonia Day, annually celebrated on Nov. 12 to raise awareness about the disease.
Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi and leaves children fighting for breath as their lungs get filled with pus and fluid.
According to him, the disease is a leading killer of children under the age of five years across the globe.
Watkins, who listed countries with high death rates from pneumonia to include Nigeria, said that other countries were India, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.
He said, “pneumonia is a forgotten global health epidemic that demands greater international response, as millions of children die due to the lack of vaccines, affordable antibiotics and routine treatment.”
The NGO director said that recent analysis showed that Nigerian children from poorest households were three times more likely to die from diseases like pneumonia before their fifth birthday than children from rich homes.
He stressed the need for investment in the health sector to tackle the problems, noting that vaccination and easy access to medical treatment was highly essential.
Dr Adamu Isah, the Chief of Party, Inspiring Project, Save the Children, Nigeria, said malnourished children were more prone to pneumonia.
He explained that others were those with a weakened immune system due to infections and those living in polluted areas.
Isah said that the organisation supported the Federal Ministry of Health to produce a roadmap to help in combating the disease.
He advised healthcare givers to pay attention to the symptoms of pneumonia to dictate it early enough to combat it.
Cuppy Otedola, the Save the children Ambassador and Founder of Cuppy Foundation, said over N5.1 billion was raised to support the NGO to combat children-related diseases in Nigeria.
Otedola urged Nigerians to contribute toward tackling the epidemic and also help to provide clean water and to reduce air pollution.