Kakamega, Kenya – Medical professionals in Kakamega County have issued a warning to parents against the indiscriminate use of over-the-counter cough syrups for children exhibiting cough symptoms. This caution comes in preparation for World Pneumonia Day, observed globally on November 12.
According to Kenya News Agency, Dr. Linet Elamenya, a clinical pharmacist at the hospital’s pediatric department, urged parents with children exhibiting persistent coughs to seek proper medical attention. Dr. Elamenya warned that most cough syrups contain a suppressant that could worsen the situation in cases of chest congestion, potentially leading to severe outcomes. She emphasized the importance of consulting qualified healthcare providers for appropriate treatment.
Dr. Roseline Marangachi, a pediatrician at the hospital, revealed that pneumonia remains a leading cause of hospital admissions in the pediatric wards, often presenting in severe forms. She noted that pneumonia, coupled with underlying conditions like malnutrition, immune suppression, and sickle cell, significantly increases the risk of mortality in children. According to the Health Newborn Network, child pneumonia is a major neglected disease, claiming the lives of over 800,000 children under the age of 5 each year.
Dr. Marangachi described the symptoms of pneumonia, including cough with fast breathing, difficulties in breathing, and a nodding motion of the head. She emphasized the urgency of seeking medical attention before the condition advances. The pediatrician also advocated for strict adherence to prevention measures recommended by the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health, such as maintaining hygiene, exclusive breastfeeding for up to six months, and ensuring proper ventilation when using fuels for cooking.
Pneumonia vaccinations, including the pneumococcal vaccine and the Haemophilus influenza vaccination, are also crucial in preventing the disease, as highlighted by Dr. Marangachi. Consultant pediatrician Dr. Bonface Nyubile called on medical professionals to make correct diagnoses and initiate timely treatment to reduce mortalities. Rose Muhanda, the Kakamega County Coordinator of Child Health Programs, expressed optimism about the county’s progress in managing and treating pneumonia and controlling mortality rates.