International charity Save the Children has called for joint effort to fighting pneumonia, the forgotten killer disease in Somalia.
The charity said in a report released on Thursday that pneumonia kills more than two children every hour in Somalia, even though it can be treated with antibiotics costing as little as 0.50 U.S. dollars.
“The situation is worse in Somalia. Food shortages as a result of drought in the country has left millions of children malnourished; making them more vulnerable to diseases including pneumonia,” Abdiqafar Hange, the Area Representative for Save the Children Puntland said during the launch of the report in Garowe.
“We are doing all it take to save these children. We should not ignore pneumonia at this critical time,” Hange added.
The report, Fighting for Breath is part of the global report which also marks the launch of Save the Children’s effort against pneumonia, which aims to save a million lives in the next five years.
The report indicates that 14,561 Somali children succumbed to pneumonia in 2015 alone -which is more than two children dying every hour.
This implies 24 percent of all under five mortality is due to pneumonia. The situation may get worse if drastic measures are not taken to save children’s lives.
Puntland Minister of Health Abdinasir Osman Isse who launched the report said the government has prioritized prevention and treatment of pneumonia.
“However, we cannot do it alone. We need all the key stakeholders to join efforts and ensure children have access to quality health services at all levels of service delivery,” Isse said.
He said there is a need to increase investment in the primary health care systems as well as prioritize effective prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia.
Pneumonia is responsible for the deaths of more children under five than any other disease – more than malaria, diarrhea and measles combined.
According to the charity, more than 80 percent of the victims are children under two years old, many with immune systems weakened by malnutrition or insufficient breastfeeding and unable to fight the infection. Infants are at their most vulnerable in the first weeks of life.
Save the Children is calling for 166 million under-twos to be immunized and for action to help 400 million worldwide with no access to health care. Half of all mothers in Africa have no health care around the time of birth.
Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General and Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation, who is backing the global effort, said the cost of vaccines – 9.15 dollars in poor countries – was too high.
“Pharmaceutical companies, governments, aid donors and UN agencies need to come together to make the vaccine prices more affordable to save more lives,” Annan said.