ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 25, 2008) – At least 11 children had died from pneumonia in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines, and health officials say the number of cases of the deadly disease is alarmingly increasing.
“Eleven children are confirmed to have died due to pneumonia and there is a steady increase in pneumonia cases here since last month. This is already alarming,” Eufran Dagalea, Zamboanga City Epidemiology Surveillance Unit nurse, told the Mindanao Examiner.
He said the deaths were recorded last week and health workers have been monitoring cases of pneumonia in hospitals. He said hundreds of pneumonia cases were recorded since early this year.
“There is a sharp increase in pneumonia cases compared to last year and this could be attributed to several factors, including sanitary conditions in areas where the patients come from, poor hygiene and even the weather,” Dagalea said.
He said two representatives from the National Epidemiology Center in Manila have arrived here Tuesday to help local health authorities in monitoring pneumonia cases, especially in children.
Dr Ricardo Angeles, chief of the Zamboanga City Epidemiology Surveillance Unit, has confirmed that eleven children had died from the deadly disease. He said health officials are monitoring the situation here, although there is still no declaration of outbreak of pneumonia.
Cases of pneumonia in children have increased sharply from an average of 160 a month in 2007 to more than 400 each month this year. Although the exact numbers of previous deaths were not readily available for comparison, health officials urged parents to immunize their children and shield them from the deadly disease.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lung, and can be caused by nearly any class of organism known to cause human infections. These include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.
It is also the most common fatal infection acquired by already hospitalized patients. In developing countries, pneumonia ties with diarrhea as the most common cause of death.
Dr Rodelyn Agbulos, chief of the Zamboanga City Health Office, said the increasing numbers of pneumonia cases, many in infants, was noted since July.
“We advice the public to take good care of their health and to practice good personal hygiene, parents must allow their children to be immunized in health centers, and to maintain a good and balanced nutrition and exercise regularly to enhance the immune system,” Agbulos said.
Antibiotics are usually given since most pneumonia cases are associated with bacterial infection. It is also important that the proper antibiotic is taken at the correct dosage, time and duration. Inability to do so may lead to resistant organisms that are more difficult to treat.
Agbulos said health workers have intensified their campaign in different villages to educate parents about the importance of immunizations and proper children’s health care. (Erico Rosco)