KARACHI - In a statement to mark upcoming pneumonia day on November 12, doctors have urged parents to get their children vaccinated against pneumonia which is killing 92,000 children under five annually in Pakistan.

Prof Dr Jalal Akbar, President of Pakistan Pediatric Association (PPA) Sindh and Chairman and Head of Pediatric, Children's Hospital Baqai Medical University said that “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,” he added.

He said that 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.

“According to the World Health Organisation estimates, globally, pneumonia accounts for 16 percent of the total child deaths making it the leading killer of children less than five years of age. Pakistan is among top five countries which account for 99 percent of childhood pneumonia cases,” he revealed.

He added that fortunately pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (pneumonia vaccine) was introduced in Pakistan’s EPI programme in October 2012, and this achievement made Pakistan to become the first South Asian country to include PCV in its national immunisation programme.

Dr Mushtaq A Memon, General Secretary of PPA central said “People have to adopt hygienic approach in everyday life. It can be as simple as hand washing.

He 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 disease and importance of vaccination,” Dr Mushtaq added.

He also said that critical implementation of the Global Action Plan is important and every stakeholder will have 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,” he concluded.