On this day, people from all over the world come together and demand that some serious step is taken to fight against pneumonia, the world’s leading infectious killer disease among children aged 5 years and below. This day helps to highlight the severity of pneumonia, promote interventions to protect against, prevent and treat pneumonia and trigger organizations to find ways to combat this deadly disease.
About the Disease
Pneumonia is an acute respiratory infection that attacks the lungs. The lungs are made of small sacks called alveoli that are filled with air when a healthy person breathes, whereas in a person with pneumonia these alveoli are filled with pus and fluid which makes breathing painful. Infectious agents such as virus, bacteria and fungi can cause this disease and hence, transmission of the disease is also trivial. Inhaling the infectious agent, air-borne spreading when a person sneezes or coughs or transmission through blood (during birth or right after birth) are common ways of pneumonia transmission.
Healthy children have the immunity to fight the disease naturally and the risk of pneumonia is greater in kids whose immune system is compromised. A less-functional immune system is predominantly present in children who are undernourished or malnourished, specifically in kids who are not exclusively breastfed. Other factors that increase the risk include:
Antibiotics are primarily prescribed to treat pneumonia and the patient is recommended for hospitalization only when the disease becomes severe.
Prevention is the best way to control occurrence of the disease and immunization against Hib, pneumococcus, measles and whooping cough is the most efficient way to prevent pneumonia. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of an infant’s life to prevent pneumonia from occurring and to reduce its intensity, if affected by it. Hygienic environment and nutritious foods are helpful agents against this disease. A registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com can be contacted for planning a healthy and nutritious diet for children affected with pneumonia.
The WHO and UNICEF have devised a global action plan for pneumonia control with the three steps to protect, prevent and treat the disease.
Even though vaccination and other treatment options are decreasing the effect of the disease, much more work and action are needed to control and prevent pneumonia. Children living in low-economic countries are at a greater risk of acquiring the disease. The respective governments should take necessary action and provide the child with lifesaving vaccines and medicines.
India, along with other countries such as Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia have designed district, state and national plans to accelerate actions for controlling pneumonia. These, along with days dedicated to spreading awareness and raising funds for the disease are sure ways to control pneumonia.
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