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Pneumonia is the deadliest child killer in the Bangladesh as around 24,300 children under five years of age die of the disease every year. Among them, 52 per cent of the children die at home without receiving any treatment.

Yet, experts think that prevention of this deadly disease, pneumonia, is not getting enough focus in the country.

These findings were shared at a view exchange meeting on Wednesday at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) office. Research of Decision Makers (RDM) and Data For Impact (D4I) jointly organised the meeting ahead of the World Pneumonia Day, to be observed on 12 November.

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icddr,b maternal and neonatal health department’s chief researcher Kamrun Nahar in her welcoming speech said in the last two decades the country saw huge progress in the health sector and curbing child mortality. Still, around 24,000 children die of pneumonia every year.

Ehsanur Rahman, associate scientist of Icddr,b, in his keynote said around 11.7 out of every 1,000 children under five years of age would die of pneumonia in 2011 which has dropped to 8.1 now.

The death rate, however, needs to be lowered to 3 within 2025 to achieve the global standard.

According to the keynote, 45 per cent children die of pneumonia despite being taken to health centers while 52 per cent die at home without receiving any kind of treatment.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), hospitals should be equipped with 10 specific facilities to curb death in pneumonia but only five per cent of the country's district hospitals had those facilities as of 2017.

Child pneumonia expert and Dhaka Shishu (pediatric) Hospital's professor Ruhul Amin said the best way to prevent pneumonia is only breast feeding a child up to six months after birth. The children should be given other supplementary foods after six months.

Experts also said environment pollution should be curbed as it is a major reason for pneumonia.

They also said awareness needs to be increased so that children with pneumonia symptoms are brought to health centres immediately.

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icddr’b nutrition and clinical service department’s senior scientist Jobayer Chisti said it is imperative to prevent pneumonia first to prevent deaths caused by it.

The malnourished children are more susceptible to death by pneumonia, he added.

Child health research foundation’s executive director Samir Saha, USAID Bangladesh’s monitoring, evaluation and research’s senior advisor Kanta Jamil, RDM’s chief of party Shams El Arefin also spoke at the meeting.