The State today launched SAANS, a campaign aimed at reducing child mortality due to pneumonia, which contributes to around 15 per cent deaths annually of children under the age of five.
SAANS, short for ‘Social Awareness and Action to Neutralise Pneumonia Successfully’ was launched at Ganesh Das Hospital here to mobilise people to protect children from pneumonia and diarrhoea, and train health personnel and other stakeholders to provide prioritised treatment to control the disease.
Joint Director DHS (MCH&FW) cum Nodal Officer Child Health, Dr. P. Manners informed that pneumonia is one of the leading causes of loss of life of children under 5 years of age.
Dr Manner said Meghalaya is also one of the states in the country where pneumonia has taken the lives of around 800 children (under the age of 5) due to pneumonia. While 15 per cent of deaths are those infants under one month, 34 per cent are those between one to 12 months.
Mission Director of the National Health Mission, Ramkumar S in his speech said the maternal and infant mortality rates are both on the higher side in Meghalaya as compared with other states in the country.
Pointing out that ante natal and post natal checkups are of immense importance, Ramkumar said interventions are needed between Health Department and Social Welfare and Education Department. Under SAANS, the mission director informed that a collaborated monthly review will be held in order to keep pneumonia in check.
Expressing concern that a majority of mothers in the state are young, Ramkumar also said that some mothers are still not able to recognize the signs and symptoms of pneumonia. However he hoped that with trained ASHAs and other field workers, mothers and other caretakers will recognise symptoms of pneumonia and hopefully bring the children for prompt and early treatment to prevent loss of life.
Dr. H. Giri, Indian Academy of Paediatrics in her speech spoke about how one can identify and recognise the signs and symptoms of pneumonia and diarrhoea and how exclusive breastfeeding ensures that the child receives well balanced diet for the first six months of its life.
Dr. R. F. Tariang Director of Health Services (MCH&FW), Dr. M Bareh Jt. DHS and MD Ganesh Das were also present at the launch.
Meanwhile, health officials also visited the SNCU – Sick Newborn Care Unit in Ganesh Das Hospital and presented woolen caps and socks to the mothers of the newborns.