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Efficacy of zinc in the treatment of outpatient pneumonia in an urban slum among children less than two years old

Dhaka, Bangladesh


This follows up work previously done in hospitalized children less than two years old with severe pneumonia who were supplemented with zinc during acute illness. That study found a 20% reduction in illness duration and hospitalisation, as well as a 3 – 9 fold reduction in treatment failure for children given zinc along with standard antimicrobial management. This study is now being replicated in at least two other sites in Asia, and possibly one in Africa. However, since most pneumonia is managed in an outpatient setting, it is important to know if it works in this most common setting as well as it does in hospital. If so, it could vastly improve pneumonia case management, both by reducing the duration of treatment and the likelihood of treatment failure and possibly hospitalisation. The effects on the health system from reductions in treatment time, treatment failure, hospitalisation and antimicrobial resistance could each be substantial. Just as zinc is being scaled up for routine use in diarrhoea case management, the same may happen for pneumonia case management if this study is successful. Finally, this study contributes to a larger trend on developing a new generation of disease control strategies that does not tax existing antimicrobial agents.


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