FIGHTING FOR BREATH

Jedidah Onyango is one of those people who cares so deeply about her job she can’t wait to get started in the morning. She’s our Emergency Health Officer in Turkana, Kenya, and she’s early to work every single day.

Her passion for nursing was ignited by a childhood tragedy – the death of her sister from pneumonia, the killer disease she now spends her life fighting. “I felt if I had been a nurse, her life could have been saved.”

“Pneumonia is deadly, especially in children, because it blocks their airway and they can’t breathe. Within 30 minutes the child needs to have their airway cleared and be able to open their lungs so they can get oxygen to the body tissues as well as the brain. Then you work on reducing their temperature, then give them their first antibiotics.”

Jedidah’s work is about prevention too. “Pneumonia can be tackled by informing the community about the danger signs and symptoms,” she says. “Our Community Health Volunteers identify pneumonia early, before it complicates to a severe form. We have really assisted a great deal in Turkana.

“The most satisfying thing about my job is to see a child improving. Pneumonia is something that – if action is taken early enough – should not kill a child.”

In 2017, our health and nutrition programmes reached 10.7 million children. Find out more.