Pollution-related pneumonia deaths highest in Nigeria – UNICEF

The United Nations Children’s Fund says Nigeria has the highest number of air pollution-related pneumonia deaths of children under-five in the world.

The UN body said in Nigeria, 78 per cent of air pollution-related pneumonia deaths are among children under five years – the highest proportion across all countries, according to the 2019 Global Burden of Disease.

“In 17 countries across Africa, air pollution contributes to more than 50 per cent of pneumonia deaths. Most of these deaths are among children and due to household air pollution; though deaths from outdoor air pollution are rising, according to the GBD,” it added.

World Pneumonia Day is marked every November 12 to raise awareness about this deadly illness and to advocate for global action to protect against it.

A statement by UNICEF showed 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.

“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,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF’s representative in Nigeria. “This is a travesty – for their families and for Nigeria – especially because the vast majority of these deaths are preventable.”

According to the Every Breath Counts Air Pollution and Pneumonia Scorecard 2021, air pollution contributed to 30 per cent (749,200) of all pneumonia deaths in 2019; 56 per cent (422,800) from households and 44 per cent (326,400) from outdoor sources.

“Forty per cent (304,200) of air pollution-related pneumonia deaths are among children under five years; 70 per cent (210,400) from household air pollution. 40 low- and middle-income countries, including Nigeria, are home to 90 per cent (656,400) of all air pollution-related pneumonia deaths.”


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