Tuesday, 12 November 2013

November 12: World Pneumonia Day

Today is World Pneumonia Day.

Pneumonia is the world's biggest killer of children under the age of 5. Last year, it killed 1.1 million children. This is more than Tuberculosis, AIDS and Malaria combined. It is estimated to cost tens of billions of dollars each year*.

In previous centuries, it affected every population in every nation, and was labelled the "captain of the men of death" by well-known Doctor William Osler.

Within just the last 100 years, we have taken huge strides towards ending the scourge of pneumonia, including:
  • The invention of antibiotics, which can treat most pneumonia cases completely. 
  • Vaccines - which every Australian receives during childhood, to prevent all sorts of potential causes of pneumonia;
  • as well as improving nutrition, encouraging better hygiene, reducing overcrowding etc..
All of this has meant that the number of people suffering from pneumonia has fallen dramatically over the past century. But there are still millions of people dying. Should we feel hopeless? 


Luckily there is a Global Action Plan to end child deaths from Pneumonia (and Diarrhoea) by 2025, that has been devised and is being worked on by a range of wonderful groups from around the world, led by the World Health Organisation and UNICEF.

This will help take huge strides in the fight against Pneumonia, for now, and for future generations.

Today we are reminded that despite all of our advances, there are millions of people dying from pneumonia each year, both young and old, in countries both rich and poor. And that it is up to all of us to be aware, and to advocate for better fundings of programmes that will prevent and treat pneumonia around the world, for the betterment of all of us.

Also: Stack ML and Ozawa S, Decade of Vaccine Economics (DOVE) Analysis, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, International Vaccine Access Center, 2012.

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