Pneumonia is claiming 137 young lives every day or 50,000 in a year in Bangladesh, a seminar was told today, asking mothers to provide breast milk for their kids exclusively for six months in order to help the newborn grow body resistance to fight diseases.
The disease kills more children under age five years than HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Pneumonia, caused by viruses or bacteria or irritants at lung, also claims 1.5 million globally every year.
Leading pediatricians said a nationwide campaign should be launched immediately to make mothers and their mothers-in-law aware about the benefits of breastfeeding side by side with exposing the ‘secrets’ of imported powdered milk to save thousands of young lives.
They said multinational milk companies have been doing brisk business in Bangladesh taking advantage of lucrative advertisements in the media and poor awareness at family level about food value of powered milk.
“Nothing is needed for a child up to six months of his or her age except mother’s milk,” Prof Mohammad Hanif, president of Bangladesh Pediatric Association (BPA), told a news briefing at National Press Club.
The briefing was organised on the eve of Second World Pneumonia Day on Friday. The theme of this year is to raise awareness to fight pneumonia, a disease that can be effectively prevented through public health approaches.
Prof Hanif, also known as a champion in child health protection, said prevention is the best answer to pneumonia, the leading cause of child mortality in Bangladesh. The pregnant women should be motivated in advance that they must provide colostrums to kids as the first food in the world. And this mother milk acts as the first and effective ‘natural vaccine’ for newborns.
The noted professor, now with the Dhaka Shishu Hospital, said the government has introduced Hib vaccine two years ago and was considering the pneumococcal vaccine to fight pneumonia. He, however, reminded vaccine introducers to evaluate whether the Hib vaccine developed for the West would be suitable to effectively fight the local strain of pneumonia.
Parliamentarian Prof Dr MS Akbar, MP, chairman of Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, said morality due to pneumonia still remains high, despite the country’s remarkable success to downsize child mortality over last decade.
He said the total achievement of millennium development goal (MDG)-4 could not be attained without further reduction of infant
and neonatal deaths.
National Professor MR Khan, secretary general of BPA Dr Mesbah Uddin Ahmed, president of Bangladesh College of Physicians and Surgeons (BCPS) Prof Dr Nazmun Nahar, Director of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) Dr ABM Jahangir Alam and health officer of Smiling Sun Franchise Programme of USAID Dr Arefin Amal Islam also spoke on the occasion.
DHAKA, Nov 11 (BSS)