Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Pneumonia and Prematurity Day amid calls for the government to develop and implement guidelines that ensure all health institutions as well as community health workers are trained and equipped to diagnose and treat pneumonia.

Research shows that pneumonia claims the lives of more children around the world than any other infectious diseases and the majority of those affected are from poor communities.

Pneumonia, a severe infection of the lungs mainly affects children under the age of five especially those who are born before they fully mature.

Zimbabwe is among the countries with the burden of pneumonia and premature births.

Speaking on the sidelines of commemorating World Pneumonia and Prematurity Day director for family health in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Bernard Madzima said there is need to capacitate the country’s provincial and district hospitals so that they can deal with pneumonia and premature births.

Principal Director curative services in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Sydney Makarawo said the government is working towards reducing of the less than five mortality rate through a number of strategies.

Statistics show that at least 55 babies from every 1 000 births in Zimbabwe die before reaching the age of five with pneumonia being the biggest killer.

Children with the greatest risk of contracting pneumonia include those who stay in crowded and polluted conditions, those not immunised, children with weak immune systems and pre-term born babies.