By Olivia Roger
Today is the fifth annual World Pneumonia Day. It is intended to raise awareness of measures that can be taken to prevent the disease.
According to UNICEF, an estimated 1.1 million children under the age of five died of pneumonia last year. The majority of these fatalities occurred in developing countries where there are few treatment and facilities available.
Established by the Global Coalition Against Child Pneumonia, the theme for this year is “Innovation.” Governments are being called on to support and invest in new diagnostics and regimens.
The disease, an infection of the lungs, causes the body’s air sacs to swell, creating shortness of breath.
In Canada, awareness of pneumonia can be drawn from the approaching flu season, Stephane Shank, media relations for the Public Health Agency of Canada told Humber News.
“With reference to the flu, given the season, good precautions and measures to remain as healthy as possible are certainly key. That’s essentially why we’d like to draw people’s attention to the need [of pneumonia day]. If we keep our hands away from our face, or keep common areas clean and disinfect that can help the general population remain healthier and decrease the possibility of pneumonia.”
This year, the correlation of pneumonia and diarrhea, has been highlighted in an action plan, as it accounts for 29 per cent of children’s deaths.
In a press release, Kate O’Brien, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the executive director of International Vaccine Access Centre, said:
“[Their] new Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report shows that while countries are making gradual progress implementing interventions to treat and prevent pneumonia and diarrhea, substantially more needs to be done. Vaccines are a cornerstone of intervention strategies, but they only work if the children in communities most in need are reached. We urge national governments, development partners and international agencies to commit to all strategies to reduce this preventable burden of disease.”
Dr. Stephan Lapinsky of Mount Sinai Hospital told Humber News getting the flu vaccine is the best way to prevent getting pneumonia this coming winter.
“Some people who develop flu can often go on to develop pneumonia and often need life support . . . it does carry a significant mortality rate.”