Among people of all ages, lower respiratory infections cause 3.2 million deaths each year and are rated as the third leading cause of death, after ischaemic heart disease and stroke, according to the World Health Organization. In 2011 an estimated It is estimated that in 2011 out of the 120 million children were ill with pneumonia and 1.3 million of them succumbed to the disease.
Developments that help or hinder management of pneumonia have an impact on both children and adults. For example:
- Pneumococcal vaccine for children is to be rolled out by GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations) in many high-burden countries by 2015. This is likely to reduce hospitalizations and deaths due to child pneumonia. This vaccine may also benefit adults aged >65 years.
- Antibiotics used to treat pneumonia can be given at community-care level. However, it is essential to reduce unnecessary and inappropriate antibiotic use for acute upper respiratory tract infections, as it is creating problems of drug resistance, especially in Asian settings.
- Hypoxia is an important cause of death in both adult and child pneumonia, and yet mechanisms to detect and manage it are still scarce in high-burden settings.
José Luis Castro, Interim Executive Director of The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) has rightly remarked that, “World Pneumonia Day plays an important role in building public awareness that a treatable disease has devastating consequences for young children, the aged, the poor and other vulnerable populations. Today we call on governments and other stakeholders to ensure that systems are put in place to prevent these needless deaths”.
Citizen News Service - CNS