World Pneumonia Day 2021: History, Significance, and key facts about Pneumonia
World Pneumonia Day 2021: As per UNICEF, proper immunisation can help prevent pneumonia and even low-cost antibiotics can treat the disease if diagnosed properly. This year the day is being held during COP 26 - The UN Climate Change Conference. This critical moment brings together the health, air quality and climate communities to tackle the biggest infectious killer on the planet.
Pneumonia is the single biggest infectious killer of adults and children - claiming the lives of 2.5 million, including 672,000 children, in 2019.
It is one of the leading causes of death in children under five years old despite being a preventable and treatable disease.
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 2017 which 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.
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 the 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 the chest during breathing or coughing.
- Fever, sweating, and shaking chills
- Fast breathing and shortness of breath
- Due to cough in lungs, green phlegm, or sputum.
- Muscle pain
- Cases of some kind of confusion have also been 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 the virus is usually milder and without treatment also can be cured in one or three weeks.
- Pneumonia can also be caused due to fungus. People who have weak immune systems 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 the 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 on 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.
Pneumonia: Key Facts
According to WHO;
- In 2017, pneumonia accounts for 15% of all deaths of children under 5 years old, killing 808 694 children.
- It can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi.
- It can be prevented by immunization, adequate nutrition, and addressing environmental factors.
- Pneumonia caused by bacteria can be treated with antibiotics, but only one-third of children with pneumonia receive the antibiotics they need.