- Written by Peace Loise Mbae for KenyaKidz
The Ministry of Health has announced the adoption of amoxicillin-dispersible tablets as the first line of antibiotic treatment, in a move that is believed to be a big milestone in the fight against pneumonia.
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 which are historically the standard first-line treatment for childhood pneumonia.
“A child dies every 20 seconds globally while in Kenya many children die from Pneumonia. However, these deaths can be prevented by proper nutrition, vaccination and early diagnosis and treatment using Amoxicillin Dispersible Tablets,” Dr. Warfa Osman, the Head, Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health Unit,
Pneumonia is the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in children under the age of five years in Kenya, with 1 out of 5 children dying as a result of pneumonia. In Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, the disease kills an estimated 750,000 children each year — this means one to two children per minute.
Novartis, a global healthcare company based in Switzerland, has rolled 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 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.
A report by Save The Children UK, “Fighting For Breath”, highlights obstacles slowing down the fight against pneumonia which includes:
• Widespread lack of awareness of pneumonia's causes and symptoms. About a third of children with pneumonia-like symptoms do not even seek treatment.
• Severe malnutrition. 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.
World Pneumonia Day is observed on 12th November every year to raise awareness about pneumonia, interventions to protect against, prevent and treat pneumonia; and generate action to combat pneumonia.