Pneumonia is a potentially deadly disease that kills millions each year, including an estimated 1.1 million children across the globe. World Pneumonia Day, held each year on November 12, is an effort to change that. The day has been created to raise awareness of the disease as well as raise funds to help pneumonia prevention efforts in the developing world, where almost 99% of pneumonia deaths take place.
Part of what makes World Pneumonia Day unique and important is its focus on not just pneumonia but on other emerging respiratory diseases as well. For example, Enterovirus EV-D68 is a virus that can be life threatening that was discovered earlier this year. The CDC hopes that efforts like World Pneumonia Day can raise money to help in the development of a vaccine or cure for new respiratory diseases like this one to prevent further spread.
Unlike EV-D68, there are vaccines, preventive measures, and medicines designed to help prevent and treat pneumonia throughout the world. According to the World Health Organization, antibiotics like amoxicillin can be used in the treatment of pneumonia patients and cost less than $0.50 for each treatment course. There are also vaccines against pneumonia, as well as vaccines for pertussis, measles and Hib which are the leading causes of pneumonia, especially among children in the developing world.
The groups behind World Pneumonia Day believe that with an increase in vaccine coverage in the developing world, almost 3 million lives can be saved and more than 52 million cases prevented. But, they also hope to do more than simply vaccinate. For them, the mission is three fold.
The sponsors of World Pneumonia Day hope to: raise awareness about pneumonia, the world’s leading killer of children under the age of five; promote interventions to protect against, prevent and treat pneumonia; and generate action to combat pneumonia.
The Global Coalition against Child Pneumonia is the leading partner in this effort and helps provide leadership to the other 140 plus NGOs, academic institutions, governmental agencies and foundations that have given their support to this day of awareness.
Pneumonia itself is carried in two forms, bacterial and viral. Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in children. Adults and children that spend excessive time in biomass heated areas (wood or dung), live in crowded homes, or are frequently around smokers have the highest chances of contracting the disease. The most common symptoms are coughing, fever, shaking chills and shortness of breath.
For more information on World Pneumonia Day visit this website, and for additional information on pneumonia and a list of locations at which you can receive the pneumonia vaccine, please visit the Passport Health website. We also invite you to share how you would like to help the fight against pneumonia below in our comments section.