Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) over the weekend illuminated The Source of the Nile Bridge to mark World Pneumonia Day.
World Pneumonia Day was celebrated on Saturday, November 12, 2022.
UNRA’s media relations manager, Allan Ssempebwa, said on Sunday that the move was meant to raise awareness towards this global threat and to solicit effective solutions from all stakeholders.
In a statement, the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) of which the Pan-African Thoracic Society is a founding member, called on governments and other stakeholders to take urgent action to tackle pneumonia – focusing on those who are at greatest risk of severe illness.
The combined effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, air pollution, and poor living conditions associated with conflict and climate change have contributed to pneumonia numbers – placing millions at risk of infection and even death.
In 2021, the estimated burden of deaths from respiratory infections, including COVID-19, was a staggering 6 million people.1
Pneumonia claimed the lives of 2.5 million, including 672,000 children, in 2019 alone, according to the Global Burden of Disease.
“That is one person dying every 13 seconds, one child under 5 dying every 47 seconds, one adult over 70 years dying every 26 seconds,” reads the statement.
“Most deaths occur in the poorest populations in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Low vaccination rates or lack of immunisation, malnutrition, or exposure to cigarette smoke and air pollution are key factors that increase susceptibility to pneumonia and to severe illness.
Older adults exposed to air pollution, especially from burning fossil fuels and smoking are also at risk.”
According to FIRS, almost half of the estimated 1.6 million pneumonia deaths among adults aged over 50 years are attributable to air pollution or smoking.
“To prevent, diagnose and treat pneumonia, this World Pneumonia Day, FIRS is calling on governments to strengthen health systems to deliver interventions which reduce pneumonia deaths, including provision of effective vaccines, antibiotics and oxygen delivery systems for all, implement sustainable interventions that protect against, prevent, and treat pneumonia across age groups, support research into prevention and treatment strategies such as simple, low-cost point-of-care diagnostics for pneumonia and cost-effective oxygen delivery systems, raise awareness about the risk factors for pneumonia and ensure equitably and sustained access to prevention and treatment strategies globally.”
In addition, continues the statement, vaccine education can be a pivotal tool in reducing pneumonia-related deaths. There have been important advances with new effective vaccines available against pneumonia including pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) and vaccines against SARSCoV2, the virus that causes COVID-
Pneumonia may have long-term consequences. Children who have pneumonia in early life have an increased risk of developing chronic lung disease such as asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) into adulthood.
Lack of medical oxygen has compounded the pneumonia emergency with LMICs bearing the brunt of oxygen shortages and related deaths.
“Although lack of oxygen has always been a key issue in LMICs, COVID highlighted this gap, with oxygen unavailability and related deaths mainly affecting LMICs,” said FIRS President, Professor Heather Zar.
“There are an estimated 7 million children hospitalised with pneumonia each year who require oxygen and studies show that better oxygen systems can reduce mortality from childhood pneumonia by 50% or more.”
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