The practice of observing November 12th as World Pneumonia Day was started in 2009 by the group called “Stop Pneumonia.” This year 2019 will be the 10th anniversary of this special day dedicated to creating awareness about pneumonia. There is both good and bad news about this disease – it is easily preventable and treatable, at the same time, many deaths are also attributed to pneumonia (2400 children below 5 years per day!!). Read on to learn more about this disease.
What is Pneumonia?
The lungs are made of multiple, elastic air sacs, and pneumonia is an infectious lung disease where these air sacs are inflamed leading to the reduced functionality of the lungs. The causes of pneumonia are:
- Infection by either bacteria, virus, fungus, or parasites is the most common cause of pneumonia. The air sacs fill up with fluid or pus, leading to cough, difficulty in breathing, chest pain worsening with each breath, and high fever and shaking chills.
- The infection spreads mainly by being in close proximity to the infected person – by cough droplets with sneezing or coughing.
While most adults get cured with antibiotics, in infants, the elderly (over 65 years), and immunocompromised people, this disease can be life-threatening.
StopPneumonia.org set up World Pneumonia Day with the following objectives:
- As it is one of the major life-threatening infections in children under the age of 5, the idea was to raise awareness about the disease and the fact that it can be prevented.
- Generate awareness among donors to continue to help in the fight against pneumonia.
- Spread awareness about preventing and treating pneumonia and gather additional support that is required for the same.
- The message is to spread the information to all involved – the general public, healthcare professionals, donors, and policymakers.
Every child has a right to clean water and air, essential life-saving vaccines, and basic medical facilities. World Pneumonia Day has a three-pronged approach to protect, prevent, and treat.
- Protect: The protection against pneumonia starts right at birth with continued breastfeeding for at least the first six months of life. The child also should have good quality nutrition with adequate minerals and vitamins, which are essential for good immunity, and can fight the disease.
- Prevent: Vaccines can help in preventing the most severe forms of pneumonia, be it streptococcal, whooping cough, or measles. In addition, practices like regular handwashing, maintaining clean air and water are also essential to prevent pneumonia.
- Treat: Diagnosis at the right time followed by timely intervention with antibiotics and oxygen (if required) helps improve prognosis and speedy recovery. If the diagnosis is delayed, then treatment is complicated, and prognosis also worsens.
The goal of this mission is to put an end to child deaths from pneumonia (at least the preventable one) by 2030. It is time to do your part and spread awareness. This will happen only with actions, not just by luck.