Spreading Awareness: World Pneumonia Day – November 12

World pneumonia day is honored on the 12th of November each year to raise awareness for this fatal disease. Globally, it has become a curable disease.

Pneumonia is a disease that affects to those who have a low or weak immune system which includes children under the age of five (05) or seven (07) and elderly people.

What is Pneumonia?

According to the British Lungs Foundation;

“Pneumonia is an inflammation of one or both lungs, which is usually caused by an infection. This inflammation causes the tiny air sacs (called the alveoli) inside your lungs to fill with fluid. This makes it harder for the lungs to work properly. Your body sends white blood cells to your lungs to try to fight the infection. Although this helps kill the germs, it can also make it harder for your lungs to pass oxygen into your bloodstream.”1

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Common Causes

Pneumonia can be caused by these agents:

  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  • Influenza
  • Bacteria
  • Fungi
  • Viruses

Symptoms

  • Shallow Breathing
  • Chest Pain
  • Fever
  • Shivering
  • Cough
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Diagnosis and Treatment

Pneumonia is an infection which starts from the lungs, and when it is not treated with proper medication and care, it could be a life-threatening infection. It spreads through one patient to another. It can be diagnosed through X-rays of the chest, bronchoscopy and blood and sputum (mucus) tests.

Treatment of pneumonia depends on the type involved. There are two vacancies which are used for different purposes. If the patient has bacterial pneumonia then antibiotics are prescribed for the treatment and in severe cases, the patient is hospitalized.

World Health Organization (WHO) advice that children under the age of 5 must be given an antibiotic treatment for at least 5 days to completely wipe out the infection. If improvement is lacking in a patient’s health than a higher medical facility should be consulted.

Preventative Measures

Vaccination: 

There are many vaccines that prevent viral and bacterial infections. Get monthly check-ups, children younger than 5 should be vaccinated properly. Take advice from your doctor and get the right vaccination

Hand Washing:

Wash your hand after sneezing, going to the bathroom, and before cooking food.

Quit Smoking:

Tobacco affects your immune system badly, and this is why smokers have been noticed to be higher risk.

Keep a Keen Eye for the Symptoms:

Since pneumonia can be started from a rough cough or respiratory infection, be aware of your health indications, immediately visit a doctor and get the complete check-up.

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Worldwide Spread

Pneumonia was a horrible reason of death during the 19th and 20th century but with the discovery of antibiotics and advancements in medical science, it became a curable disease.

However, it is still prevailing and is one of the major causes of death in many countries especially in the third world region.

According to UNICEF:

  • Pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of death among children under the age of 5.
  • It kills 2,500 children a day.
  • In 2015, pneumonia caused the death of 920,000 children.
  • Most of its victims were less than 2 years old.
  • It is believed that the root cause of this disease is linked to poverty-related factors such as under nutrition, lack of safe water, indoor air pollution and etc. 2

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Conditions in Pakistan

Pakistan ranks in the 3rd tier in terms of deaths caused by pneumonia. 40% of visiting patients are children less than 5 years of age, infected by a cough, cold and other symptoms associated with pneumonia. The viral condition takes a heavy toll in the winter season, 7 out of 10 child cases reported are with complications of asthma, cough, and sneezing.

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Poor Resource System

In Pakistan, the poor resource system, fragile policies and decision makers are not able to justify the health-care management and development. The pneumococcal vaccine with GAVI support, which was introduced in 2012, also, did not give any relief to the rural areas. There are many reasons, which accelerate the growth of pneumonia infections in our country.

Lack of Awareness:

One the main reasons are the lack of awareness and misconceptions regarding vaccination. Only 46%of Pakistani children are vaccinated owing to the taboos associated with the entire process.

Malnutrition:

About 40% of the children under the age of 10 suffer from malnutrition in the country. Lack of healthy and even a minimal diet lead to weak immune systems, making the victims more vulnerable to these infections.

Conclusion

The world pneumonia day is celebrated to create and spread awareness for this deadly disease. Our government should concentrate on the need of preventative measures required for the same. The condition of government hospitals is not satisfactory. People who cannot afford premium healthcare offered by private hospitals are left with no other options.

Risk factors such as poor income, low immunization coverage, poor breastfeeding practices, and non-implementation on family planning are getting high day by day. Therefore, it is not only government’s job to tackle out this problem but also as individuals it is our responsibility to keep our actions towards the betterment of our society’s health and development.

References:

 1:https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/pneumonia/what-is-it        

2:http://data.unicef.org/topic/child-health/pneumonia/

3:https://centracare.org/florida/blog/2014/10/13/pneumonia-prevention/