2014 Press Releases

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World Pneumonia Day on November 12, 2014

World Pneumonia Day on November 12, 2014
Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) highlights need to strengthen pneumonia management & prevention strategies globally

World Pneumonia Day, held annually on November 12, is an opportunity to raise awareness about pneumonia globally; to  promote prevention and treatment; and to generate action to fight the illness. World Pneumonia Day is designed to create public awareness  about pneumonia, promote interventions for preventing and treating pneumonia, and support action plans to combat pneumonia.

Pneumonia is an acute infection that affects the lungs, making breathing difficult and  limiting oxygen intake.  Poor nutrition, lack of breastfeeding, exposure to indoor air pollution or passive  smoke exposure, HIV infection, premature birth, overcrowding and poor living circumstances predispose a child to developing pneumonia.

Pneumonia  is the also the commonest cause of infectious disease-related death in adults. In 2010, lower respiratory tract infections (including pneumonia) ranked second only to ischaemic heart disease in terms of total burden of disease, accounting for the loss of 115 million disability-adjusted life years worldwide.

Pneumonia is the cause of death in nearly one in five children under  5 years worldwide. While  pneumonia deaths in children under 5  years of age have fallen from 1.7 million cases to 1.3 million cases annually  over the past decade, too many children die from  pneumonia every year. Most of  these deaths are preventable, and more than half of  all deaths occur outside a health facility. Pneumonia also impacts older children and adults, often in  many low-income settings, the impact of HIV and exposures to tobacco smoke and  air pollution). Pneumonia is a major reason for hospitalization and health care utilization in all countries.

Most  cases of pneumonia are preventable or treatable. For most patients effective management of severe pneumonia requires  simple interventions -- supplemental oxygen, prompt provision of appropriate  antibiotics and intravenous fluids. Strategies to improve the delivery of these  basic aspects of acute care in low-income countries, in particular, expanding  oxygen provision, which is often inadequate, should be prioritized. Vaccines  can prevent some pneumonia, but availability is limited in many countries. 

FIRS calls on  governments, health care programs, clinicians, public health specialists and  non-government organizations to strengthen the following interventions to  reduce the burden and deaths from pneumonia: 

  • Strengthen health systems to ensure  access to effective preventative and treatment strategies for pneumonia  including: 
  • Vaccination against whooping cough (pertussis), measles, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and Streptococcus pneumoniae. Universal access to pneumococcal conjugate  vaccine (PCV) is a priority for all children;
  • Timely, appropriate treatment, including antibiotics, supplemental oxygen, and referral  to hospital when needed. Case  management of childhood pneumonia as contained in the  Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) program is highly effective;
  • Optimize childhood nutrition including promotion of exclusive  breastfeeding until 6 months of age and continued breastfeeding complemented by  nutritious solid foods thereafter;
  • Improve access to safe drinking water, hand washing facilities and sanitation;
  • Reduce exposure of children to passive smoke and to indoor air pollution;
  • Reduce HIV incidence and severity through strengthening of prevention of mother to child programs and early use of antiretroviral therapy; an
  • Increase funding for research to develop improved strategies for prevention and management of pneumonia
About the  Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS)

The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) is an  organization comprised of the world’s leading international respiratory  societies working together to improve lung health globally: American Thoracic  Society (ATS), American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), Asociación Latinoamericana De Tórax (ALAT), Asian Pacific  Society of Respirology (APSR), European Respiratory Society (ERS),  International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases (The Union) and the  Pan African Thoracic Society (PATS). The goal of FIRS is to unify and enhance  efforts to improve lung health through the combined work of its more than  70,000 members globally.