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CRR commemorate World Pneumonia Day

Nov 23, 2011, 12:39 PM | Article By: Abdou Rahman Sallah in Bansang

People in the Central River Region, in collaboration with health workers, NGOs, and CBOs, and the security apparatus, recently converged at the School Enrollment Nurse conference room to commemorate World Pneumonia Day.

The theme for this year is “I am the face of pneumonia”.

The commemoration took the form of a march pass from Bansang garage to SEN conference hall led by Bansang Scout band, with singing and chanting, symbolising the importance of the day.

Speaking at the gathering, Baba Njie, Regional Health Director in CRR, said pneumonia is a preventable and treatable disease that sickens 155 million children under-5 and kill 1.6 million each year, making pneumonia the number one killer of children fewer than 5 years, claiming more young lives than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

He said pneumonia is a complicated disease that kills a child every 20 seconds, mainly in the developing world where healthcare resources are scarce. The pneunomococcus bacterium, pneumonia’s leading cause, has more than 90 varieties alone; to control this complex threat to global health is within reach but requires a comprehensive approach that utilizes the full suite of prevention tools at disposal.

“You don’t have to be a mother to imagine the wrenching pain of losing a child to a disease that could have been prevented, or an epidemiologist to know that pneumonia kills too many children,” he added.

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals are eight international development goals that 192 UN member states and 23 international organizations have agreed to achieve by 2015.

The fourth of these goals is to  reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015 underfive mortality rate.

Dr Shah Muhammah Sahito, head of Bansang Medical Research Council branch, said MRC has been closely working with the Gambia government in the fight against pneumonia for years, as MRC is conducting extensive research in this area, identifying disease burden and proper diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

According to him, a lot of this work is being carried out in URR and CRR in all the major health centres in these regions.

The pneumococcal vaccine trial was conducted in CRR and URR from 2000 to 2004, he said, adding that MRC has also earlier this year launched a new phase of the study called the pneumococcal surveillance project case control study in URR/CRR, to determine the effectiveness of PVC-13 to assist government to make informed decisions.

For his part, Baboucarr Jammeh, CEO of Bansang Hospital, revealed that pneumonia is inflammation of the lungs, caused by bacteria. “This causes swelling of the lungs in the infected area, which becomes solid instead of remaining soft and spongy,” he said. “This hampered breathing as air/oxygen cannot get into the air spaces in the solid part.”

Mr Jammeh also said: “The illness may begin suddenly, often with a violent attack of shivering, high temperature, pulse rate increases, chest pain and dry cough.”

“This can be transmitted by droplet spread, direct oral contact, etc. And some of the common features in children include coughing with fast breathing, fever, grunting, nasal flaring, head nodding among other.”

 Malang Saibo Camara, deputy governor of CRR, in his remarks, said: “This day is a very significant day in the whole world as The Gambia joins the rest of the world to commemorate World Pneumonia Day.

The Government of The Gambia introduced PCV-7 into the Ministry of Health’s expanded programme on immunization (EPI) in 2009 and followed this with the introduction of a more potent version of vaccine , PCV-13, earlier this year, Mr Camara said.

“The Gambia is among the first countries in Africa to introduce PCV in its EPI programme, and vaccination against HIB has been an integral part of The Gambia’s EPI schedule for several years,” he added.