The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has stated that Nigeria has the second highest number of air pollution-related deaths in the world, Nigeria is second to India.
This was disclosed in a statement issued by UNICEF Nigeria on November 12, 2021 to commemorate this year’s World Pneumonia Day.
TheFact Nigeria gathered that the high rate of deaths recorded from pneumonia was due to misconceptions about the disease and the country’s frail healthcare system.
Pneumonia is a disease that affects the lungs and aggravates the air sacs of the lungs. This might happen because the lungs are filled with discharge or liquids.
According to the Global Burden of Disease (GBD 2019), in Nigeria, 78% of air pollution-related pneumonia deaths were among children under-five; the highest proportion across all countries.
The GBD further revealed that air pollution contributed to more than 50% of pneumonia deaths in 17 countries across Africa, most of which were among children and was due to household air pollution. It also showed that deaths from outdoor air pollution were rising.
Record also had it that deaths of Nigerian children under-five due to overall air pollution-related pneumonia were 67,416 in 2019 while deaths of Nigerian children under-five due to household-specific air pollution-related pneumonia were 49,591 during the same year.
UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, who expressed displeasure at the statistics noted that these deaths were preventable.
“Almost 185 children under the age of five die every day from pneumonia due to air pollution in Nigeria, the majority of them from air pollution in the household, including that from cooking over open fires or cookstoves in the home.
“This is a travesty for their families and for Nigeria, especially because the vast majority of these deaths are preventable”, he said.
According to the Every Breath Counts Air Pollution and Pneumonia Scorecard 2021, released today:
Air pollution contributed to 30% (749,200) of all pneumonia deaths in 2019; 56 % (422,800) from household and 44 %(326,400) from outdoor sources.
40% (304,200) of air pollution-related pneumonia deaths were among children under five years; 70% (210,400) from household air pollution.
40 low- and middle-income countries, including Nigeria, are home to 90% (656,400) of all air pollution-related pneumonia deaths
India topped the charts with the highest number of overall air pollution-related deaths in the world, with Nigeria coming second.
In response to these statistics, Hawkins explicated:
“It is critical that the government introduce policies to reduce the major causes of air pollution-related pneumonia deaths among Nigerians – especially children, who bear the biggest burden.
“One of the important ways we can do this is to increase the proportion of Nigerian households with access to clean cooking fuels and technologies, by increasing the use of LPG gas for cooking and helping families finance the cost of clean stoves and fuels.
“We must also scale up services to diagnose and treat pneumonia, and improve nutrition, vaccine coverage and breastfeeding rates, all of which improve children’s health and immune systems, reducing the risk of children dying from pneumonia if they do contract it”, he said.
Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi, and leaves children fighting for breath as their lungs fill with pus and fluid.The disease is the leading killer of children in Nigeria, causing 17% of under-five deaths.
Most pneumonia deaths can be prevented with vaccines and treated with low-cost antibiotics. But more than 43% of one-year-olds in Nigeria are not vaccinated with the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), and one in four Nigerian children suffering from pneumonia symptoms do not get access to medical treatment.