Health experts have ruled out a direct link between the weather and
In an interview with Uganda Radio Network on Friday, Dr. Sabrina
Kitaka a consultant paediatrician at Mulago hospital said the disease which is
more common among children but can also affect adults is common during the cold
She said during such weather a lot of children get allergies and
even asthma symptoms which can be confused with pneumonia.
Another Child Health Expert at the Ministry of Health Dr. Julius
Otim says that actually children who report with pneumonia also have other
underlying illnesses that they are battling with but are often misdiagnosed.
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He says that parents should be keen on what treatment they offer
to their children when they develop cough because cough can sometimes be a sign
that a child will also develop pneumonia.
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He says the disease which claims the biggest number of children less
than five years of age after malaria is often misunderstood. He says it can
either be viral or bacterial and sometimes fungal whereby some of these
bacteria and viruses can be spread by direct contact with a person who is
already infected with them.
Dr. Kitaka said children who are most likely to get pneumonia are
those with a weak immune system, such as from cancer or any other on-going chronic
illness such as asthma or other problems with the lungs or airways. She adds
that children younger than 1-year-old are at risk if they are around second-hand
tobacco smoke especially if their mother smokes.
While cases of bacterial pneumonia tend to happen suddenly with
symptoms such as cough that produces mucus, vomiting or diarrhoea, fatigue and
fever, Kitaka says with viral pneumonia, breathing problems happen slowly
whereby a child may wheeze and the cough may get worse.
Currently, she says even as the public is crying of developing
pneumonia because of the cold weather, the ward at Mulago is only seeing a
decrease in cases after the introduction of the pneumococcal vaccination in
June 2017. Viral pneumonia may make a child more at risk for bacterial
pneumonia, she says.
According to Kitaka, before 2017 for every 10 cases
registered, four would be admitted because of pneumonia but now it’s less than
one at every admission a reason they have about seven cases on the ward right
now. According to Ministry of Health figures, 24,000 children below five years
of age succumb to pneumonia annually.