Why write about World Pneumonia Day? I mean, pneumonia is curable, right? What’s the big deal?
Yes, pneumonia is often curable here, in the United States, but did you know that around the world a child dies from pneumonia every 20 seconds?
EVERY TWENTY SECONDS.
Dies. Dead. Stops living.
Did you know that pneumonia is the world’s biggest curable health problem?
Are we doing enough????
I was invited by the Global Coalition Against Child Pneumonia to take a conference call this past Thursday that included Dr. Richard Besser from ABC News, Dr. Orin Levine of the International Vaccine Access Center of Johns Hopkins University and 6 fellow bloggers. We listened and discussed the global problem of pneumonia, one of the leading causes of death in children under 5 years old.
During the call I found my eyes tearing up at parts, such as when Dr. Besser told the story of a visit to Kenya in Africa when he met two daughters the same age as his own two daughters. However, the African daughters died of pneumonia right in front of his eyes. He thought about how unfair it was of why these girls had lost their lives so young. Dr. Levine added that this is so common in developing nations without access to the healthcare that can save them.
Pneumonia is an infection in the lung which causes fluid and bacteria to clog air spaces making it increasingly difficult to breathe. And the bacteria in the lungs can even make its way into the infected’s blood system.
Dr. Levine spoke about how in remote areas of the globe, if the signs of a child’s pneumonia aren’t recognized, that child will have great difficulty breathing and die. He talked of projects to educate village health workers of the first warning signs of pneumonia — children breathing too fast and having difficulty breathing. Once the condition is identified, the village health workers would be able to administer antibiotics to cure the infection. He also mentioned about an initiative for clean cookstoves to provide better air quality for families in the developing world. However, both these types of programs don’t yet reach every remote area.
The most cost-effective way to prevent pneumonia is through vaccination. Organizations such as the GAVI Alliance are working hard to vaccinate children in developing nations to save lives. Dr. Levine gave the statistic that for example, for every 1,000 children in Gambia who were vaccinated, they are able to save 7 lives.
Further, according to Medical Xpress website,
In a paper published in the journal International Health, the authors estimate that two pneumococcal vaccines being introduced in the world’s poorest countries with support from the GAVI Alliance could save the lives of three to four million children over the next 10 years.
A separate report released by the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins University shows that progress in rolling out interventions to control pneumonia has been uneven, with the greatest recent progress in access to vaccines but lingering lack of access to medical care and antibiotics in the countries where children are most vulnerable to pneumonia.
Wow. In the next 10 years 3 to 4 million children are estimated to be saved through these vaccination programs. WOW. So, what can we do to help?
We can increase the conversation on the subject. And we can let people know that their generosity to aid programs like the GAVI Alliance’s can lead to real, life saving results. To read about the mission of the GAVI Aliance click here.
You can also help vaccination programs like the GAVI Alliance and also the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life by signing up for the UN Foundation and ABC News’ Million Moms Challenge. Johnson & Johnson will donate $100,000 to the cause of maternal and child health for the first 100,000 people sign up for the Million Moms Challenge. Click here to join: Million Moms Challenge.
World Pneumonia Day. Yes, the world’s biggest curable health problem does, indeed, need its own day.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by founder, Jennifer Burden of New Jersey, USA. Jennifer is leading World Moms Blog’s international social good efforts, and one of her projects is being a Million Moms Community Blogger for ABC News and the UN Foundation’s Million Moms Challenge. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Twitter@JenniferBurden.
Photo credit to the Global Coalition Against Pneumonia.
Great content which is clear and well written.
Thank you for sharing this. I didn’t know how many children died from pneumonia, nor did I know how many could be saved.