The mortality from pneumonia is reduced when children with pneumonia requiring antibiotics are identified and the severity of the pneumonia assessed. Children presenting with a cough or difficult breathing have pneumonia if fast breathing is present. The severity of pneumonia is classified by the presence of chest wall indrawing, inability to drink or feed well, decreased level of consciousness or convulsions, amongst others. Using these easily observed signs, pneumonia can be classified into four grades of severity: no pneumonia (cough or cold), pneumonia, severe pneumonia and very severe pneumonia. The classification into one of these four grades of severity is extremely useful as it identifies which children require antibiotics, which antibiotics and who requires hospitalisation and supplementary oxygen. This simple case management of pneumonia can be successfully taught to any cadre of health care worker, and where implemented has been shown to reduce childhood mortality from pneumonia.
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