April 26, 2012 / 9:21 AM / 5 years ago

A fight for life in Ghanaian children's hospital

ACCRA, April 26 (Reuters) - Isiah Anane is barely conscious of the desperate words pouring from his father’s mouth. He is eight months old and struggling to take each breath as his father offers up prayer after prayer over his heaving little body.

Even with the oxygen tube going into his nose, Isiah’s lungs are not getting enough oxygen into his blood to sustain him.

He has pneumonia, his temperature is dangerously high and the medicines and fluids he’s being given are so far having little impact against the severity of his condition.

“This is a very difficult case,” says Margaret Neizer, the emergency room doctor at the Princess Marie Louise Children’s Hospital in Accra, where Isiah was brought in at dawn.

“His prognosis is not good. And this is their first child,” she adds, looking at the baby’s parents weeping and praying at his bedside.

If Isiah makes it through and becomes well again, his family are likely to be among the most eager to take him to be immunised with one of two new vaccines being introduced across Ghana this week.

A pneumococcal shot of the type being launched in a new nationwide campaign could stop him from coming down with pneumonia again in the future.

And a rotavirus vaccine, which arms against the main cause of severe and fatal diarrhoea, could ensure his protection against the world’s joint second biggest killer of children under five.

Yet if Isiah loses his fight for life, his doctors hope at the very least that his sorry tale will show why immunisation is so vital for the health of developing countries like Ghana.

“This is why we need the vaccines. We still have these challenges every day in this institution and health institutions across the country,” said Neizer.

“Last year in this hospital pneumonia was our top cause of mortality, but in countries where these vaccines have been introduced, the results have been good. I hope that for Ghana it won’t be any different.” (Editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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