Karachi: An estimated three million pneumonia cases are reported in Pakistan every year out of which over 72,000 children below the age of 5 die as a result of the infection spread.
Eminent Pediatrician Prof Dr Iqbal Memon, in connection with the World Pneumonia Day observed globally on 12th November, said that the day is marked and observed worldwide to raise awareness of Pneumonia as a public health issue, and to help prevent millions of avoidable deaths that occur annually. He said that the theme of this year’s World Pneumonia Day is: “Universal access to Pneumonia Prevention & Care”.
He stated that Pneumonia is a form of acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs, making breathing painful and limiting oxygen intake. It is the biggest threat to the lives of children in Pakistan and also worldwide. He said Pakistan ranks 4th globally in terms of most pneumonia cases reported per year. “Pneumonia is a preventable, treatable illness via vaccines, antibiotics treatment and improved vaccination” he said.
He further added that 0.8 to one million cases of Pneumonia occur in Sindh alone annually, out of which 22,000-25,000 patients die. Peak seasons of Pneumonia begin with autumn and continue till the end of winter season.
He said infants and children below two years of age are at greater risk of contracting Pneumonia as their immune systems are still developing. He said one in every five children below the age of 5 years dies as a result of Pneumonia, a condition which is otherwise preventable through proper vaccination and timely treatment.
He added that malnutrition, environmental factors such as indoor air pollution caused due to cooking fires made from wood, dung or coal, living in crowded homes, and parental smoking increase the risk of Pneumonia in children. He said bottle-feeding is also a major cause of Pneumonia development in infants.
Dr Iqbal Memon then elucidated the symptoms of the disease which include difficulty in breathing, cough, fever, chills, headaches, loss of appetite and wheezing.
He urged the parents to ensure timely visits to the EPI centers in order to get young children vaccinated against Pneumonia and other deadly diseases entirely free of cost. “Excellent coverage of routine vaccines is our duty and the right of our children” he said.