How to treat persistent cough, flu in children

A health worker monitors the breathing rate of a child who has been suffering from pneumonia. PHOTO/UNICEF

What you need to know:

  • Doctors advise parents to take their children to hospital immediately they see symptoms of cough and flu.

Health scientists have asked schools to isolate and treat or send home learners who have serious signs of flu and cough as investigations into the exact cause of the spike continues. 

The experts also asked parents to give children a lot of fruits to strengthen their immunity so as to fight off the infection or minimise the chance of developing severe disease.

Dr Herbert Luswata, the Uganda Medical Association secretary-general, told Daily Monitor that schools should revive adherence to preventive measures such as wearing facemasks and handwashing.

“You find that these measures are not being observed. The children are sharing sweets and drinks and the children are just sitting close to one another. We advise parents to make juice, add in banana, ginger and passion fruit to make their immunity strong,” he said.

He added: “When their immunity is strong, they can get infected, but they will not develop severe diseases. Fruits are helping them a lot. Some of them are developing very bad pneumonia.”

Directors of hospitals and doctors told this newspaper that hospitals are already overwhelmed with children who are presenting with severe cough, flu and other respiratory diseases. 

Mulago Hospital said plans were underway to expand their children’s ward in case the admissions increase.
Dr Charles Olaro, the director of clinical services at the Health ministry, on Monday said: “Our teams from Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) are investigating the cause of the increase.”

“As part of our surveillance [report], most of these children who are presenting with these symptoms are not testing positive for Covid-19 and now we want to understand the type of influenza virus which is circulating,” he added.

Dr Julius Lutwama, the deputy director of UVRI, said they were still analysing the results to explain the spike in cases of flu and cough. He said the findings would be communicated.

Dr Olaro said: “Prevention in an environment where students interact with each other is hard…the best thing we can do is early identification and keep those who are infected away from others. We are emphasising that the learners should wear masks, especially for those learners who are six years and above.”

He, however, acknowledged that since many learners share dormitories and classrooms which is a fertile ground for infection, curbing the spread will be hard.

Dr Luswata on the other hand asked parents to take the children to the hospital immediately they see the symptoms of cough and flu.  “There is a complaint the schools are hiding sick children and by the time they are calling the parent the child is already very sick,” he  said.