On World Pneumonia Day 2012, Malaria Consortium is calling for the scale-up of life saving community-based interventions for child survival. Pneumonia is a preventable and treatable disease which kills 1.2 million children globally each year. It is one of the biggest killers of children under five, accounting for 18 percent of total deaths worldwide.
“In Uganda alone, pneumonia is estimated to be responsible for 24,000 deaths in young children each year,” said Dr. Godfrey Magumba, Malaria Consortium Uganda Country Director speaking at a press briefing held in Kampala on Friday. “We cannot even begin to think about reducing child mortality by two thirds and meeting the Millennium Development Goals if we do not all pay serious attention to pneumonia as well as the other leading causes of deaths amongst children under five, including diarrhoea and malaria.”
Malaria Consortium is working in partnership with governments in Uganda, Mozambique, Zambia and South Sudan to scale up integrated community case management (ICCM) to reduce preventable deaths in children under five. The aim is to diagnose and treat children at community level to achieve maximum impact.
Our ICCM programmes train and support volunteer community health workers to conduct health promotion activities, diagnose and treat three of the leading causes of death in children under five - diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria - recognise danger signs in newborns and under-fives and refer to the nearest health facility. The strategy aims to reduce mortality among under-five children by up to 35 percent and is bringing diagnosis and treatment closer to home, where, in the past, poverty and distance limited access to quality health services. This year, we have trained 7,500 health workers in ICCM, leading to treatment for over 1.5 million children in these four countries.
Pneumonia can show a wide range of symptoms similar to those of malaria and can often occur at the same time as malaria, making it crucial to check for both diseases and treat accordingly. Pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics but currently only 30 percent of children suffering from the disease receive the correct antibiotic. According to the WHO, the majority of cases of childhood pneumonia can be treated effectively within the community, without needing to visit a health facility or hospital. These volunteers have the capacity to reach children during the most critical time, reducing the negative effect of delaying diagnosis and treatment.
Dr Magumba continued: “National and International focus needs to be on strategies that work, getting timely and appropriate pneumonia prevention and treatment to the most remote communities.”
Mariam, whose two year old granddaughter Rosemary fell sick with a fever and cough and was treated for pneumonia by a community health worker in her village in mid-western Uganda, told us: “The CHW examined for fast breathing and told me the child has pneumonia. If the CHW was not around, I would go to the health centre, that is about four kilometres from here. Things have changed from the time I was a mother myself; now the CHW is near, and it is easy and free of charge to get the children treated.”
“We recognise the positive role of the in managing pneumonia cases, and we support them with new tools and the right supervision to keep them motivated,” said Dr. Karin Källander, coordinator of a project that is researching effective ways to support the scale up of quality ICCM in Mozambique and Uganda. “At Malaria Consortium, we know that this approach can be more cost-effective in addressing pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria together.”
Malaria Consortium is an international public health NGO working in Africa and Asia to control malaria and other common childhood diseases like pneumonia and diarrhoea. The organisation uses innovative strategies and approaches to work with partners and governments to improve the health of individuals and communities. The main causes of death in children under five are malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea, neonatal conditions and HIV.
Malaria Consortium conducts several programmes in ICCM of pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria in Mozambique, South Sudan, Uganda and Zambia.
For more information about Malaria Consortium contact us at [email protected]