More awareness on pneumonia needed

Letters, Normal

I REFER to the report “The forgotten killer” in your paper on Nov 13.
The article highlighted some important facts about this deadly disease which is affecting babies and small children in our country. 
The article broke my heart as it reminded me of my three-month-old baby boy who died a month ago as a result of pneumonia. 
I wished this article had appeared two months ago, maybe then, I would have know my son was suffering from pneumonia and maybe he would still be alive today had the doctors correctly diagnosed him.
My baby was originally diagnosed with malaria but even after completing the treatment, he was still sick and feverish. 
On Oct 12, I took him back to the doctor and he referred us to the children’s outpatient at Angau Memorial Hospital for spinal fluid sample to be taken from his back for testing. 
The sample was tested for meningitis but it came back negative, however, he still had malaria so he was put on quinine. 
Even after completing this treatment, he still looked sick and cried a lot. That’s when he started developing those tell-tale signs of severe pneumonia; only I didn’t know they were signs of severe pneumonia that time. 
We took him to Angau on Oct 18, he was put on oxygen and admitted to the children’s ward. 
Straight after that, his condition started to deteriorate and he struggled to breathe. 
The amount of oxygen given was increased and he was also given nebuliser to help stabilise his breathing. 
On the morning of Oct 19, he struggled to breathe and they could not x-ray him but his doss of oxygen, nebuliser and other drugs were increased. 
His was really distressed as he struggled to breath. 
Then at about 3pm in the afternoon, my baby boy closed his eyes and went to be with the Lord. 
I did not know what was wrong until after he died and the doctor told me my baby had severe pneumonia. 
I did not believe he had pneumonia until I read your article. 
As a mother watching my baby suffered as he did, it is something that will haunt me for a long time.
I know more could have been done for him had we been well informed about his condition and having a proper diagnosis from the doctors.
Pneumonia may be a deadly disease but it could be prevented and treated if more awareness was made available to the public, especially to mothers about how it starts, what causes it, the symptoms for early detection and conditions which may make babies susceptible to pneumonia. 
It pains me to read that pneumococcal vaccines are available but the Health Department had no funds to implement routine immunisations.
But the Government was able to acquire an aircraft that cost more than K100 million.
Can you imagine the difference it would have made if just K1 million was given to the Health Department to buy and implement pneumococcal vaccines nationwide. 
Many innocent lives of small children and babies could would have been saved.


Heart broken mother