Pneumonia is the leading global cause of childhood death and kills nearly one million children each year.
Yet despite there being an effective vaccine only a quarter the world’s children have been immunised against it.
Whilst I always try to appreciate the different perspective on any topic, I find it hard to understand people who do not vaccinate their children, particularly after seeing the devastating conditions here that are vaccine preventable.
Watching a child’s body spasm with their backs forced into extension, their face contorted in a joker like grimace and their lungs paralysed as a result of the toxins that come from being infected with tetanus is one of the most traumatic things I have seen in my medical career. I have seen small bodies try and fight this condition, but ultimately they simply can’t take a breath and they die. It’s a horrible death.
Last year in Yida refugee camp where I am currently working, we experienced a measles outbreak and many children died. We are bracing ourselves for this again this year.
You can see some of MSF’s incredible work here:
I have seen of numerous cases of severe pneumonia and the faces of many small children, both that survived and died from their illness come to mind. I often remember the face of a one and a half year old girl. She came into our clinic short of breath, belly breathing and her head was bobbing as she fought to get in enough air. She tried helplessly to clutch her mother’s breast. She was stuck between the urge and need to breast feed and being so short of breath that even just breathing was taking all her energy.
We admitted her and tried to put in an intravenous cannula but she was already so unwell that all her veins had shrunk down and it took us about one hour. This child endured us poking her with needles about five times before we were finally successful. We gave her antibiotics and placed her on oxygen and for a short time her breathing settled.