Pneumonia kills as many as 940,000 children under the age of five every year and is a major cause of infant mortality, particularly in less-developed countries, according to UNICEF.
But now a new alliance between UNICEF and Spanish “la Caixa” Foundation, one of the largest private charities in the world, aims to “save the lives of thousands of children” worldwide by helping to improve the diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia.
The Acute Respiratory Infection Diagnosis Aid (ARIDA) programme develops instruments and solutions to improve the detection of the lung inflammation. Since chest x-rays and laboratory tests are not readily available in many low-income communities, it is distributing a new automatic diagnostic device in Ethiopia and other countries that measures children’s breathing. The diagnosis of pneumonia is confirmed in infants between the ages of 2 and 12 months when they take 50 or more breaths per minute. It is present in children that are between 1 and 5 years of age in those who take 40 breaths per minute.
The simple diagnosis of pneumonia is all-important. So the alliance is also training community healthcare workers to detect pneumonia cases using these instruments, and to offer care and treatment outside health facilities.
Another initiative involves increasing the availability of amoxicillin in healthcare centres. Amoxicillin is an antibiotic used to treat certain types of infections caused by bacteria, such as pneumonia.
So far, a reported 120,000 children have benefited from the distribution of the diagnostic devices, testing and treatment through the UNICEF and “la Caixa” alliance.