A 3-month-old child – cradled in her mother’s hands – receives treatment for severe pneumonia, malnutrition and dehydration at a Save the Children-supported hospital in Kenya. Photo credit: Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children, July 2017.

A 3-month-old child – cradled in her mother’s hands – receives treatment for severe pneumonia, malnutrition and dehydration at a Save the Children-supported hospital in Kenya.

Suleka is a Survivor

Our team met Halima in a pediatric ward in a Save the Children-supported community hospital in Kenya. Halima sat on the bed, with her baby Suleka lying wrapped in a printed scarf beside her. Suleka was lying on her side, her feeding tube across her exposed cheek, and her eyes closed. On her left hand was another tube for medication. At two months old, Suleka was only 4 pounds and was so sick she refused to nurse.

Suleka’s life had been a struggle since the day she was born. Underweight and fragile, she was little bigger than Halima’s hand when she was born. First she suffered with fever, vomiting and diarrhea. Then she started coughing and her breathing was difficult and rapid – almost like she was panting – more than 65 breaths per minute. It must have been exhausting for the tiny little girl.

Halima who slept at the hospital with her baby, spent her waking moments in every mother’s worst nightmare – her baby’s life was in danger. A deadly case of pneumonia had set in.

Halima’s fears later calmed once she spoke with the confident and kind Dr. Siyad who was assigned to Suleka’s case. A knowledgeable doctor, he’d also recently participated in a training on diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia in children. “I felt frightened when I was told it was pneumonia, but I kept telling myself my baby will be ok,” said Halima. “The doctor reassured me, so I felt better.”

Suleka was treated with oxygen and IV antibiotics until she started responding. “She has improved, no fevers, no fast breathing, she’s not coughing, the diarrhea had already stopped. So currently we’re just maintaining the fluids and antibiotics for one week,” reported Dr. Siyad. “This morning her breathing rate was down to 32 breaths per minute.”

As Suleka got better, a smile emerged on Halima’s worried face. “Suleka is doing well and has improved. She has gained weight and is sleeping well. I am happy and I am hoping my child will be well again.”

Today, Suleka is further down the road to full recovery and has returned home to be with the rest of her family. Dr. Siyad and Save the Children continue their battle against pneumonia and won’t rest until we can save every last child.

“Save the Children has been here for a long time. They are doing very good work [and] assisting us in educating the community about pneumonia, malnutrition and others and by supplying medication,” said Dr. Siyad. “They doing a very good job in supporting us in terms of patient management, in terms of resources, and in terms of motivation and encouragement so that we can do our job very well. So we are very happy and we are very grateful.”

How You Can Help

The fight against pneumonia is ongoing and rife with challenges in terms of raising awareness and keeping this illness in the spotlight. With your donation we will:

  • Develop programs that protect, prevent, and treat pneumonia in children worldwide.
  • Support research and influence policy regarding pneumonia.
  • Save countless young lives from preventable disease.


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