In eastern Punjab, there were approximately 300 deaths and over 18,000 cases of pneumonia in January. Unicef has reported that around half of childhood pneumonia deaths are linked to air pollution. The provincial government has taken measures such as extending school holidays, shortening classroom hours, and requiring face masks to protect children.
Despite these efforts, Children’s Hospital Lahore continues to admit hundreds of pneumonia cases daily. The hospital’s paediatric ward is filled with the sound of infant coughs and strained lungs due to the cold winter and heavy smog. The hospital is striving to care for patients like four-month-old Ibrahim, who is battling pneumonia.
Lahore faces high levels of smog every winter, and this year’s dry and cold weather has increased the risk of respiratory infections for children. Rashid Liaquat’s three-year-old son, Mohammad Ali, fell ill with pneumonia and was rushed to the hospital. Fortunately, Ali had been fully immunized, but many children are not. Doctor Junaid Rashid expressed discomfort when unvaccinated children with pneumonia are brought for treatment.
The federal government faces the challenge of increasing vaccine uptake due to misinformation and misconceptions about vaccinations. Additionally, premature births and malnutrition contribute to the prevalence of pneumonia in children.