Awareness campaigns galore on World Pneumonia Day

November 2nd, 2009 - 2:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Facebook New Delhi, Nov 2 (IANS) Advertisements, campaigns and discussions marked the first World Pneumonia Day being observed Monday. A number of awareness drives were held in the capital in an effort to sensitise people about this curable disease that kills 400,000 children every year in India alone.
According to Save the Children, an international NGO working on child rights issues, the number of children that killed by pneumonia every year is more than those dying because of HIV/AIDS, malaria and measles combined. The NGO participated in the Delhi half marathon Sunday to raise awareness on the issue.

Thomas Chandy, CEO of Save the Children India said: “Most people are unaware that pneumonia kills more children than any other disease and that in fact, it is the single largest cause of death in children worldwide, taking the lives of more than two million children annually.”

Pneumonia takes the life of one child every 15 seconds, and accounts for 20 percent of all deaths of children under five worldwide. In India, West Bengal and Delhi have the highest number of pneumonia related deaths, Chandy added.

“We live in a world with limitless possibilities. Science has made it possible to have a heart transplant, medical advances happen every day. Yet, in the national capital hundreds of children die of pneumonia every year. This is outrageous,” he said.

Issuing advertisements in public interest, the ministry of health and family welfare Monday said: “Early diagnosis and appropriate case management by rational use of antibiotics is the most effective intervention to prevent deaths due to pneumonia”.

“Pneumonia is preventable. Pneumonia is treatable,” it pointed out.

Listing the symptoms and the danger signs of the disease, the advertisement said: “Fever, cough and fast breathing in a child are signs of pneumonia. Inability to feed, lethargy, breathing trouble, grunting in a child with fever and cough are the danger signs.”

Nitin Shah, chairperson of the Indian version of Asian Strategic Alliance for Pneumococcal disease prevention (ASAP), said: “Pneumonia is largely preventable through vaccination. The main motive behind observing World Pneumonia Day is to provide necessary medication to the world’s most vulnerable countries.”

India with 27 percent has the highest number of pneumonia cases in the world, followed by Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Africa and Asia record the highest number of pneumonia deaths.

Chandy said: “The disease can be prevented with simple interventions, and treated effectively with antibiotics that cost less than a dollar. On World Pneumonia Day, we call on the government to implement life-saving pneumonia interventions for those that need them the most.”

A campaign to spread awareness about the disease is in momentum on the social networking site Facebook. “Wear blue jeans”, as the campaign is called, asks people to wear that in support of all those who are victims of the disease.

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