Non-Governmental Organisation Save the Children and pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have donated medical equipment worth N20 million to the Rasheed Shekoni Specialist Hospital, Jigawa State, in Northwest Nigeria.
According to a statement released by the organisation on Thursday, the donation will go towards reducing child mortality rate associated with pneumonia and other illnesses due to the lack of treatment systems.
The equipment donated included a piped oxygen system, oxygen concentrators, and pulse oximeters.
The partnership between Save the Children and GSK was made possible through the Integrated Sustainable Childhood Pneumonia and Infectious Diseases Reduction in Nigeria (INSPIRING) Project.
A report by Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) in 2018 revealed acute respiratory infections were one of the main causes of childhood morbidity and deaths in Nigeria, with pneumonia being the most serious respiratory disease amongst children under the age of five, with 162,000 deaths that year.
The donation of the medical equipment contributes towards the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhea, which targets less than three child pneumonia deaths per 1,000 births, and less than 25 child deaths per 1,000 births by the year 2030.
Save the Children also noted that a recent study carried out by Graham et al. in 2020, showed that out of 12 hospitals in the country, only five had oxygen readily available in pediatric wards, with just one used pulse oximetry for pediatric care.
“The donation will enhance the hospital’s capacity in providing lifesaving oxygen therapy, thus strengthening the Jigawa State’s oxygen delivery system.”
“As Rasheed Shekoni Specialist Hospital is getting ready to become a Teaching Hospital, we believe this donation will empower the hospital to perform its role as topmost referral, teaching and research hospital in Jigawa State,” the statement read.
“Last year a similar oxygen systems intervention was made by Save the Children to Dutse General Hospital.”
Mercy Gichuchi, the Country Director of Save the Children in Nigeria, said the organisation had a responsibility to support efforts in ensuring pneumonia related deaths in vulnerable children are reduced drastically.
“In Nigeria effective oxygen treatment is seldom available in the clinics and hospitals that serve poor families,” she said.
“That helps to explain why death rates from pneumonia are three times higher for children in the poorest households than they are for children in the richest households.”
Ehighebolo Omongiade, the GSK representative in Nigeria similarly noted the importance of the collaboration between the two organisations when it comes to addressing child mortality.
“This donation represents one way GSK and Save the Children are bringing together our unique skills and resources, to break new ground and find new ways to bring down the number of children dying from preventable diseases,” he added.
Since the kickoff of the INSPIRING project in Jigawa and Lagos states, efforts have been made in increasing and improving existing services provided to children under five by providing funding and other means of support such as new technology and innovations to the health facilities.