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Islamabad

December 6, 2017

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Incidence of respiratory tract infections, pneumonia among children on the rise

Rawalpindi: Soon after the setting in of winter, the incidence of both the upper and the lower respiratory tract infections among children and infants has started taking shape of epidemic and the number of patients reaching allied hospitals with RTIs is continuously on the rise.
Data collected by ‘The News’ on Tuesday has revealed that the allied hospitals in town including Holy Family Hospital, Benazir Bhutto Hospital and District Headquarters Hospital are receiving heavy burden of child patients with RTIs.
On average, the allied hospitals are receiving 600 to 800 child patients with RTIs daily and the number of child patients with lower respiratory tract infections including pneumonia is also on the rise.
An estimated 80 to 85 per cent of the total child patients visiting allied hospitals are with RTIs and of these, nearly 15 per cent of children and infants are reported with pneumonia, said Assistant Professor of Paediatrics at Rawalpindi Medical University and In-charge Paeds Department at Holy Family Hospital Dr. Tariq Saeed while talking to ‘The News’ on Tuesday.
He said well over 80 per cent of the total child patients reported with respiratory tract infections at the allied hospitals are with upper respiratory tract infections including colds, sore throat, cough and flu.
He said the dry weather accompanied with high pollution level in the air including dust is major factor behind spread of respiratory tract infections however lack of awareness among parents on how to avoid RTIs is one of the most important factor.
Smoking inside homes, unclean environment and overcrowded rooms are major factors behind spread of RTIs, said Professor Tariq.
It is need of the time to make public aware that respiratory tract infections can be avoided in majority of cases by following proper preventive measures, he said. It is important to mention here that two of the three teaching hospitals including HFH and BBH operate fully equipped

paediatrics departments while DHQ Hospital provides OPD services for child patients.
The paediatrics department at HFH has 136-bed capacity and the BBH paediatrics department has 100-bed capacity however on Tuesday, well over 400 child patients were admitted at the two hospitals and majority of these patients were with pneumonia, one of the top killers of children below five years of age that claims not less than 90000 lives in Pakistan every year.
To a query, Professor Tariq said that to avoid upper and lower respiratory tract infections, children should be protected from cold by using warm clothing while infants should be breastfed at least for two years. Parents should avoid children from getting wet to avoid pneumonia and the environment of the children should be kept clean, he said.
Like other health experts, he said that children below five years of age must be administered pneumococcal vaccine and haemophilus influenzae type B (HIB) vaccine which is available under Expanded Program on Immunization. Both the vaccines are available at the allied hospitals free of cost, he said.
It is important that upper respiratory tract infections are highly contagious and can be passed by tiny droplets produced during sneezing or coughing of infected persons and touching things with hands and tissues that others touch.
Smoke whether from motor vehicles or from tobacco is a major cause behind asthmatic and respiratory tract problems among children and parents should take additional care to safeguard infants and children from cigarette smoke, said Professor Tariq.

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