World Pneumonia Day is celebrated on November 12, annually across the globe to raise awareness about the fatal infection and take measures to prevent and treat pneumonia. Although it can be easily treated, pneumonia is the single most infectious killer of adults and children that had claimed the lives of 2.5 million people in 2019, including 672,000 children. Furthermore, deaths due to COVID -19 added 2 million more in 2020, thus bringing the total to more than 4 million. No other disease causes this huge burden of death. Improved strategies and efforts to combat pneumonia could prevent nearly 9 million child mortalities from pneumonia and other associated conditions by 2030.
Children under 5, older adults over 65 and those with a compromised immune system are at higher risk of pneumonia deaths. Exposure to poor indoor and outdoor air, improper nutrition and lack of vaccination remains the chief variable risks factors for childhood pneumonia. With the ongoing COVID-19 struggle many people do not have an adequate supply of oxygen and only 1 in 5 children in low-income countries can access oxygen when they require it. On this health event, the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), calls for governments to take urgent step-up efforts to reinforce prevention and offer affordable medicines and oxygen supplies to end the preventable burden of pneumonia.
World Pneumonia Day is an annual campaign that was first observed in 2009 by the Global Coalition against Child Pneumonia. When the event was first launched, pneumonia was estimated to claim 1.2 million children lives each year. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2013 announced an integrated action plan to avert and control pneumonia and diarrhoea. The goal set was by 2025, there should be no more than 3 pneumonia deaths per 1000 births in every country globally.
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As per reports, air pollution is attributed to the leading risk factor for pneumonia deaths across all age groups, killing around 749,200 in 2019. While household air pollution contributed to 423,000 deaths and outdoor air pollution contributed to 326,000. Thus, the need for clean air action is evident and reducing air pollution will confer remarkable merits to health, the environment, and the worldwide economy.
This year, World Pneumonia Day will be held during COP26- the UN Climate Change Conference, this is a crucial moment to bring together the health, air quality and climate community to deal with the biggest infectious killer on the earth. This year’s theme is Every Breath Counts, which calls on high-burden country governments to take integrated, multidisciplinary action to reduce air pollution-related pneumonia deaths.
- Despite being preventable and treatable with low-cost medicines, still, pneumonia accounts for 15% of death in children
- Vaccination, proper treatment plan on time and good nutrition can help avert the risk of the disease
- Viruses, fungi, and bacteria are the main causes of pneumonia. It is also known as Pneumococcal; it is caused by the bacteria streptococcus pneumonia and spreads via the droplets in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes
- In kids, symptoms appear in the form of convulsions, hypothermia, unconsciousness, and difficulty eating
Well, every single child on the planet has the basic right to hygienic sanitation facilities, pure air and water and life-saving vaccines. This health campaign uses a three-tier approach to eradicate pneumonia that includes:
Safeguarding against pneumonia starts at birth with continuous breastfeeding for the first six months in infants. The child must be provided with a wholesome diet and nutritious food adequate in vitamins and minerals, which will support building a robust immune system and combat against diseases.
Vaccines are the key form of prevention of several infections including streptococcal, measles and rubella. Apart from this, following personal hygiene etiquette that includes frequent handwashing, maintaining personal care and access to clean and safe drinking water can prevent pneumonia.
Prompt diagnosis and timely intervention with oxygen support (if needed) and antibiotics help to speed up the recovery, whereas delayed treatment can lead to severe complications.
World Pneumonia Day works to enhance equitable and continuous access to effective pneumonia prevention and control interventions. Additionally, the organisations foster support for strategies to avert pneumonia including immunisation with pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and COVID-19 vaccines, minimising exposure to tobacco and air pollution, and increasing access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Together, we can end preventable death from pneumonia by the year 2025-2030.