KARACHI     -     To mark upcoming Pneumonia Day on November 12, doctors have urged parents to get their children vaccinated against pneumonia, which is killing around 92,000 children under five, annually in Pakistan.

Dr Jamal Raza, Director of National Institute of Child Health (NICH), Prof DrJalal Akbar, President Elect Pakistan Pediatric Association (PPA) Sindh, Dr Ghulam Rasool - President PPA Sindhand Dr Muhammad Khalid Shafi, General Secretary Pakistan Pediatric Association Sindh and Associate Professor at Dow University of Health Sciences briefed the media on the occasion. They said, “Vaccines are considered second only to clean drinking water in reducing infectious diseases. It is very unfortunate that a preventable and treatable illness is claiming so many precious lives every year.”

“Pneumonia is an acute respiratory tract infection of lung tissue. When an individual has pneumonia, the alveoli (small sacs in lungs which fill with air when a healthy person breathes) are filled with pus and fluid, which makes breathing painful and limits oxygen intake,” they further described.

Highlighting the magnitude of the problem, they said, “According to World Health Organization estimates, globally, pneumonia accounts for 16% of the total child deaths making it the leading killer of children who are less than 5 years of age. Pakistan is among top 5 countries, which account for 99% of childhood pneumonia cases.”

“However, the good part is the introduction of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (pneumonia vaccine) in Pakistan’s EPI program in October2012, and this achievement has made Pakistan to become the first South Asian country to include PCV in its national immunization program,” they further revealed. Speaking about the prevention of this deadly disease, they said, “People have to adopt hygienic approach in everyday life. It can be as simple as hand washing.”

They further stressed that Global Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Pneumonia (GAPP) can only be achieved through awareness. “We have to increase awareness related to causes and symptoms of pneumonia among parents. Only then, they will be able to understand the burden of the disease and the importance of vaccination for its prevention,” they added.

They also emphasized upon the importance of implementation of Global Action Plan where every stakeholder needs to play its role including media, NGOs, doctors, Government and associations.

“Increase in coverage is crucial to fight pneumonia and other preventable diseases. We have to work on grass root level to achieve the objectives,” they concluded.