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January 12, 2020

Hospitals receiving significant influx of child patients with pneumonia

Islamabad

January 12, 2020

Rawalpindi : Public sector hospitals in this region of the country including the three teaching hospitals in town and Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in the federal capital are receiving significant influx of child patients with pneumonia that is one of the top killers of children below five years of age in Pakistan.

The allied hospitals in town including Holy Family Hospital, Benazir Bhutto Hospital and District Headquarters Hospital are receiving 60 to 80 child patients with pneumonia per day on average and the incidence of the infection is continuously on the rise. It is important that pneumonia is much fatal in Pakistan as it claims well over 80000 lives every year.

Of course, pneumonia may put life of an infant at stake and in the existing weather conditions, in extreme cold there is a need to safeguard children from the disease, said Associate Professor of Paediatrics at Rawalpindi Medical University and Incharge Paeds Department at the HFH Dr. Tariq Saeed while talking to ‘The News’ on Saturday.

He said on average, the HFH receives 20 to 25 child patients with pneumonia, lower respiratory tract infection per day of which five to 10 patients are with severe form of the infection requiring indoor treatment. The other two teaching hospitals in town, BBH and DHQ Hospital are also receiving the same number of patients with pneumonia on average, he said.

He, however, added the situation is well under control at the time though it is time to take extra measures to avoid incidence of pneumonia among children.

He like other health experts explained that severe pneumonia has respiratory distress, fast breathing and lower chest in-drawing and may have cyanosis in which colour of hands and feet gets bluish. Refusal to feed or poor feeling is another important feature. Although respiratory syncytial virus is the most common organism causing pneumonia but clinically it is difficult to differentiate from bacterial pneumonia.

Clinically it is easy to pick pneumonia that has main symptoms of fast breathing and lower chest in-drawing. Mothers can pick pneumonia by just counting respiratory rate in one minute and if fast greater than 60 till two months of age, greater than 50 from 2-12 months, and greater than 40 from 1-5 years, the child must be taken to the nearest hospital.

Professor Tariq said children with severe pneumonia require admission to the hospital and the allied hospitals admit all like patients for treatment.

He said severe pneumonia is common in infancy and at this age mortality is also high. Parents should not give medicines to their children at their own and must consult a qualified paediatrician to avoid complications that may be of critical nature, he said.

Children below five years of age must be administered pneumococcal vaccine and haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine which are available under Expanded Program on Immunization at the allied hospitals free of cost, he added.

He said overcrowding in a room as happened in winter contaminates the environment if the room is not properly ventilated and it may cause respiratory infections including pneumonia. Children and infants must be kept in well ventilated rooms and should be protected from cold weather and getting wet. Breastfeeding and vaccination protect children from pneumonia, he said.

According to Deputy Director at PIMS Dr. Waseem Ahmed Khawaja, the PIMS receives 25 to 30 child patients with pneumonia per day on average and the incidence of the infection is on the rise.