By Raymond Baguma
ABOUT 27,000 children die of pneumonia in Uganda every year, according to statistics released as the country marks the World Pneumonia Day today.
Pneumonia, a severe inflammation of the lungs usually caused by a bacterial infection, is responsible for one in four child deaths, more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and measles combined.
The disease kills approximately 1.8 million children below five years of age every year, making it the worldâ€™s leading child killer.
The Uganda Paediatrics Association (UPA), which brings together child health specialists, blames the child deaths on misdiagnosis of pneumonia by parents and care-givers, as well as initial mistreatment of the disease with anti-malaria drugs.
Only about one in five care-givers knows the signs of pneumonia; only about half of children sick with pneumonia receive appropriate medical care.
According to the limited data available, less than 20% of children with pneumonia received antibiotics, the recommended treatment, which costs less than $1.
The statement by UPA said while effective interventions to reduce pneumonia deaths are available, they reach few children.
Despite the death toll, the disease remains of low priority on the global health agenda and rarely receives attention.