Pneumonia in neonates: can it be managed in the community?


Neonatal pneumonia kills about two million children a year worldwide. The World Health Organisation recommends hospitalisation of all cases of pneumonia in the first two months of infancy. In a field trial of community based management of childhood pneumonia in Gadchiroli, India, neonatal pneumonia contributed more than half of the pneumonia deaths. Parents refused referral even when advised therefore community based health workers and traditional birth attendants managed cases of neonatal pneumonia with co-trimoxazole. Case fatality was 15% (10/65) in all cases and 6% (3/52) in cases without high risk or referral indications. Case fatality in 56 babies aged 30-59 days treated for pneumonia was zero. During the two years of the trial, pneumonia specific mortality rate in the intervention area was 40% less in the neonates and about 80% less in the second month and rest of infancy compared with the control area. Pneumonia in the second month of infancy and uncomplicated cases of neonatal pneumonia can be safely and effectively managed in the community using co-trimoxazole.

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