Today is the first World Pneumonia Day (WPD). To demonstrate your solidarity with the millions of children who are afflicted with pneumonia every year, WPD asks that you wear blue jeans to school, work, or wherever you go on this day.
WPD has organized a Global Pneumonia Summit of over 100 media representatives, scientists, political leaders, donors, and public health organizations in New York City, a national press conference on pneumonia in Bangladesh, a ‘Run for Child Survival’ in Kenya, a film screening in Baltimore, a launch of a new pneumonia treatment policy in Uganda, and much more.
Every 15 seconds, a child dies from pneumonia. Of the four million lives claimed by it every year, two million are children under the age of five. Of these two million children who die from pneumonia annually, an estimated 98% live in developing countries.
Pneumonia, an infection of the lungs that causes coughing, fever, and difficulty breathing, is often caused by bacteria (such as Hib and pneumococcus), viruses, and fungi. Elderly adults and children under five, especially those in developing countries can be extremely susceptible to it. Pneumonia also causes stress extreme financial burden for families who struggle to find ways to finance hospital stays, transportation, and other costs.
To prevent the disease, WPD is advocating for more accessible vaccinations, particularly those for the measles, pertussis (whooping cough), Hib, and pneumococcus. Zinc supplementation and antibiotics can also be used as preventative measures. Protecting children against pneumonia can be done through hand-washing, providing adequate nutrition, exclusively breast-feeding them for the first six months of life, improving prenatal care to reduce low birth weight, and reducing indoor air pollution. For those children already afflicted with pneumonia, WPD supports better case management in diagnosis and treatment, training of community health workers (especially in areas that lack easy access to health care centers), resources for antibiotics and oxygen therapy, as well as better tools, such as chest-x-rays and lab tests, to properly diagnose pneumonia in a timely manner.
www.worldpneumoniaday.org or World Pneumonia Day on Facebook.