Pneumonia is now the leading infectious cause of death in children internationally, said Dr. Philip Fischer — Consultant and Chair — Paediatric Adolescent Medicine Division at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City.
“Prompt diagnosis (often based on clinical examination, even without X-rays and lab tests) is possible when children have access to health care; antibiotics are effective in treatment. Diseases such as respiratory syncytial virus also cause lung infections, and fluids, nutrition, and respiratory support can be life-saving. Vaccines and medications can help prevent and treat influenza infections of the lungs, “ Dr. Fischer said.
To mark International Children’s Day, which is celebrated every year on June 1, we sat down with Dr. Fischer, Consultant and Chair of Paediatric Adolescent Medicine Division at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City — the joint venture of Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) and Mayo Clinic, to talk about the common diseases that children are affected by globally, and ways in which we can provide our children with the necessary environment for a better lifestyle.
Dr. Fischer said worldwide, improvements in sanitation, insect control, and vaccination have made pneumonia, diarrhoea, and malaria much less frequent causes of death than in the past, but these are still significant problems. “Nonetheless, we must remain vigilant in providing children with vaccines (such as against pneumococcus and rotavirus), good sanitation, and places to sleep that are protected from mosquitoes. And, of course, prompt oral rehydration can usually prevent death from diarrhoea and dehydration, and good medical care can help almost all children with malaria recover well,” he added.
He stressed pneumonia is now the leading infectious cause of death in children internationally, and good childhood nutrition is essential.
On the treatment and prevention, Dr. Fischer said as children grow up, they should have good sanitation (toilet materials managed to prevent contact between children and intestinal output). Oral rehydration solutions should also be readily available for use in children who have diarrhoea. “Vaccinations also protect against potential infections including diarrhoea, pneumonia, and measles. Good nutrition reduces the risk of infections. And good malaria treatment is available, and vaccine development efforts continue,” he said.
On the most common diseases that cause death between children, Dr. Fischer said pneumonia. “Birth problems also account for many unnecessary deaths — whether by prematurity, complicated delivery, or infection,” he added.
“Besides, many children still die from trauma, and traumatic deaths are usually preventable. The use of seat belts and infant/child car seats can save children’s lives who are involved in motor vehicle crashes, supervision around water can prevent drowning, and care in kitchens can prevent burns.”
Concerning the treatments and medical expertise that SSMC offer in its Paediatrics division, Dr Fischer said the institute successfully cares for many children with viral and bacterial lung infections.
SSMC provides good fluid management (and medications when needed) for children with diarrhoea. “We also offer the full spectrum of general paediatric care, neonatology, and critical care, and have expertise in caring for children with neurologic, endocrinological, and rheumatological problems,” Dr Fischer said.
Paediatric surgical and medical care is also available at SSMC, and this summer, SSMC is opening a new adolescent clinic — to provide expertise in the care of teenagers with bothersome and complicated health concerns.
Source: Gulf News