World Pneumonia Day 2019: History and Key facts about Pneumonia

This year in 2019, the 10th anniversary of World Pneumonia Day will be going to celebrate to fight against pneumonia. We can't ignore that pneumonia is one of the leading causes of deaths in children under five years old despite being preventable and treatable diseases.

Word Pneumonia Day: History

World Pneumonia Day was established in 2009 by the Global Coalition against Child Pneumonia.

Global Coalition against Child Pneumonia is a network of international, government, non-government and community-based organisations, research and academic institutions, foundations and individuals. When the first World Pneumonia Day was launched, pneumonia was killing approx 1.2 million children each year. WHO and UNICEF in 2013 released the Integrated Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea. It sets a target of less than three child pneumonia deaths per 1000 live births in every country by 2025.

The International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) released first pneumonia and Diarrhoea Progress Report in 2013 and the rapidly growing Pneumonia Innovations Network hosted the Pneumonia Innovations Summit in 2015. The Every Breath Counts Coalition was also launched in 2017which was the first public-private partnership to support governments to achieve the GAPPD (Global Action Plan for Pneumonia and Diarrhoea) target to reduce child pneumonia deaths in nine "beacon" countries.

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What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infectious disease that causes infection in one or both lungs. It can be serious and life-threatening. Due to an infection, inflammation is caused in the air sacs of lungs known as alveoli. The air sacs may fill with fluid or puss causes cough, fever, chills, and difficulty in breathing. Various organisms are responsible for causing pneumonia including bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Let us tell you that it can be serious for infants below the age of 5 and for older people more than 65 age and those who have health-related issues and a weak immune system.

What are the Symptoms of Pneumonia?

- Pain in chest during breathing or coughing.

- Fatigue

- Fever, sweating and shaking chills

- Fast breathing and shortness of breath

- Due to cough in lungs, green phelgm or sputum.

- Weakness

- Diarrhoea

- Headache

- Muscle pain

- Cases of some kind of confusion have also seen in older adults.

- Nausea or vomiting

How is pneumonia caused?

The common cause of pneumonia is bacteria known as Streptococcus pneumoniae. Other bacterial causal organisms are Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae etc.

- Virus also causes pneumonia like influenza (flu), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinoviruses (common cold).

Note: Pneumonia caused due to virus is usually milder and without treatment also it can be cured in one or three weeks.

- Pneumonia can also be caused due to fungus. People those who have weak immune system affect most. Fungi from soil or bird droppings can cause pneumonia. Fungi like Pneumocystis jirovecii, Cryptococcus species, Histoplasmosis species, etc.

Pneumonia: Treatment and Vaccination

No doubt pneumonia is preventable and timely vaccination also reduces the possibility of causing disease. Vaccines that provide immunisation against pneumonia in India are:

- PCV (Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine)

- Measles vaccines

- Hib vaccine

The infection caused due to Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus can be cured by giving vaccines Hib and PCV. The systematic infection caused by measles can be cured by measles vaccine.

Note: PCV vaccine was introduced in India in 2017.

How pneumonia can be prevented?

The three-fold strategies to fight against pneumonia apart from immunisation are:

- In kids, six months of exclusive breastfeeding.

- A healthy diet including zinc and vitamin A supplements.

- Ensuring cleanliness and hygiene.

If there is a healthy lifestyle not only pneumonia but also you can prevent yourself from other diseases as well.

Cases of Pneumonia in India

John Hopkins Centre of Public Health published a report in 2018 in Pneumonia and Diarrhoea which states that around 1,58,176 children under 5 years of age died due to pneumonia in 2016 in India. Factors that lead to spreading infection include malnutrition, non-exclusive-breast feeding, low-birth weight, lack of measles immunisation, overcrowding, indoor air pollution, etc.

Therefore, we can say that pneumonia is an infectious disease that can be cured with proper immunisation but still, several deaths are recorded across the globe. World Pneumonia Day is observed on 12 November to raise awareness about pneumonia, how is it caused, treatment and prevention.

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