Kenya moves to tackle pneumonia among children
As the world marks the World Pneumonia Day today, the greatest impact of the disease is felt in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where the pneumonia kills an estimated 750,000 children each year — this means one to two children per minute.
While pneumonia continues to take a devastating toll, there is cause for hope. The Kenyan Ministry of Health announced that it will officially adopt amoxicillin-dispersible tablets as the first line antibiotic treatment for pneumonia in children under age five.
This is a significant policy shift in line with World Health Organization recommendations, as dispersible tablets are more affordable, hygienic and easier to administer than liquid suspensions (historically the standard first-line treatment for childhood pneumonia).
With this in mind, Novartis Access is rolling out a new program to provide the Kenyan Ministry of Health with low-cost amoxicillin dispersible tablets and will also provide pneumonia education through Familia Nawiri (our “Novartis Healthy Family” initiative in Kenya) to improve awareness among families and health providers about the disease and how best to stop it.
So far, Novartis has delivered 100,000 treatments to the Kenyan government, and another 55,000 are in production. These efforts, together with appropriate diagnosis and education, are part of a comprehensive solution to fight pneumonia in Kenya.
Novartis applauds the Ministry of Health’s policy change that has made it possible to make these contributions and accelerate efforts against this devastating disease.
Still, it’s important to understand that access to treatment does not ensure good health. A new report by Save The Children UK, “Fighting For Breath”, takes a hard look at current obstacles to stopping pneumonia.
Widespread lack of awareness of pneumonia’s causes and symptoms have been cited among the top challenges in fighting the disease. About a third of children with pneumonia-like symptoms do not even seek treatment.
Notably, the 52 million “wasting” children around the world are four times likelier to die of pneumonia. Weak health infrastructure in low- and middle-income countries has made it difficult or impossible to provide treatment to families in need, even when medicines and vaccines are cheaply available in the region.