Pneumonia is one of the top killers of children under five years in the developing world.
The baby is using every ounce of his energy to breathe. The muscles between his tiny ribs suck in and out. His shoulders heave up and down and his nostrils flare; he grunts with every expiration. His mother sits on the floor of the tukul and cradles him in her arms. It's dark in the tukul even in the middle of the day and I wish for the 100th time that my headlamp hadn't become defunct on my second day of the mission.
We are doing everything that we can for the baby. Antibiotics, IV hydration, a ventolin puffer with a delivery apparatus fashioned out of a hard plastic IV bag. At home the baby would be in the Pediatric ICU. He would have a tube in his trachea and some kind of mechanical ventilator would be breathing for him. There would be a suction machine sucking up reams of mucous from his chest. But this is not home.
We are doing everything we can; he will have to do the rest. He struggles on.