Acute respiratory infections in Pakistan: have we made any progress?J Coll Physicians Surg Pak. 2004 Jul; 14(7):440-8.JC
Acute respiratory infections (ARI) are the leading cause of death in young children in Pakistan, responsible for 20-30% of all child deaths under age 5 years. This paper summarizes the research and technical development efforts over the last 15 years which have contributed to improving the effectiveness of the case management strategy to reduce mortality from pneumonia in children in Pakistan. Community intervention is viable, effective and practical. Rising antimicrobial resistance among commonly used and low-cost oral agents is of significant concern. Appropriate monitoring and evaluation of the impact of the ARI control programme is lacking. Lack of funding for programmatic activities, lack of coordination with other child survival programs, inadequate training for community health workers and general practitioners in the private sector, lack of public awareness about seeking timely and appropriate care, and insufficient planning and support for ARI programmatic activities at provincial and district levels are major hindrances in decreasing the burden of ARI in the country. The recent introduction of the community-based Lady Health Worker (LHW) Programme and WHO and UNICEF-sponsored integrated management of childhood illness initiative present ideal opportunities for re-emphasizing early case detection and appropriate case management of ARI. Ultimately, focusing on preventive strategies such as improving nutrition, reducing indoor pollution, improving mass vaccination, as well as introduction of new vaccines effective against important respiratory pathogens will likely have the most impact on reducing severe ARI and deaths from severe disease.