Winter is here and it has brought along with it a striking sun, breezy winds, and horrific ailments for all. With the season changing so rapidly, we are all now accustomed to hearing a cough or a sneeze every few minutes. And so, November is our chance to raise awareness about one of the scariest diseases – Pneumonia. World Pneumonia Day falls on 12th November each year.
The day is recognized as the annual opportunity to rally public consciousness about the deadly disease. Each year, organizations work together on global levels to combat the effects of pneumonia.
In our attempt to contribute to the universal acknowledgement of the “forgotten killer of children”, we would like to expand on what World Pneumonia Day is about.
The Basics – What is it & the Symptoms of Pneumonia in Children
Pneumonia is an infection that affects one or both lungs in humans. Though anyone can catch this infection, it mostly targets (and hence discriminates) infants and adults because of their weak or underdeveloped immune system. It is the world’s leading infection that kills most children under the age of 5. Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, virus or fungi.
The infection leads to inflammation in the air sacs present in the lungs (known as alveoli). As a result, the alveoli get filled with fluid or pus making it difficult to breathe.
Symptoms of Pneumonia in Children
Pneumonia is similar to any other infection. The symptoms largely overlap with those of malaria. Because of this, the diagnosis and hence the treatment tend to be incorrect, sometimes.
Common signs and symptoms in children include:
- Fast breathing
- Difficulty in breathing
- High fever
- Stuffy nose
- Chest pain
- Body chills
- Loss of appetite
- Bluish color of lips or nails
Also, read about How to Identify Pneumonia in Newborns
History of World Pneumonia Day
Pneumonia accounts for the loss of nearly 800,000 infant lives, annually. Despite such shocking numbers, the understanding and the disease burden in communities are lagging. The observation of World Pneumonia Day was set in the year 2009.
About a decade ago, the disease was responsible for killing more than 1.2 million children each year. If one combines the number of deaths caused by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, deaths by pneumonia alone would still rank the highest.
An Integrated Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD) was introduced by WHO and UNICEF in 2013. The plan targets less than 3 child pneumonia deaths per 1000 live births in every country by the year 2025. However, so far the results are not as pleasing. Only 2 out of 20 countries are in line with GAPPD vision.
Facts About World Pneumonia Day
The GAPPD target needs more attention because the current progress is not feasible. If the present conditions persist, the world would lose 11 million more children to pneumonia by the year 2030.
It has been seen that children in developing countries are at a higher risk of catching this infection. In 2017, child deaths due to pneumonia in India were 1,85,429. Poor communities are, sadly, more vulnerable to the disease because of a lack of access to medical care. In spite of being a treatable and preventable disease, only 73% of affected children in India could seek help.
Vaccines are one solution to decreasing the number of child deaths by this disease. Nonetheless, more research and action should be done on its prevention.
2019 is the 10th year anniversary of the World Pneumonia Day. The objective of this day is to ‘Protect, Prevent and Treat’ pneumonia. And since this year’s theme is “healthy lungs for all”, we urge our readers to advocate for reasonable action against pneumonia.
To find Pneumonia Doctors in India