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Medical experts, groups urge public to join fight against pneumonia

Several health experts, groups, and government officials called on the public to be proactive in its fight against pneumonia which is the sixth leading cause of death of Filipinos in 2022, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

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In celebration of World Pneumonia Day 2023, healthcare company MSD in the Philippines launched a multi-stakeholder media forum held in Mandaluyong City titled “Advance the Fight Against Pneumonia,” to strengthen the call to stop pneumonia together.

The forum also facilitates expert talks and multi-stakeholder discussions about the challenges and opportunities surrounding pneumonia prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in the country.

World Pneumonia Day is a yearly reminder that pneumonia is a life-threatening disease that can strike anyone, anytime, anywhere. The annual event not only draws more awareness to this severe lung infection but also drives a whole-of society approach to combat this highly preventable disease.

The disease is usually the result of a pneumococcal infection, caused by bacteria called streptococcus pneumoniae. Other different types of bacteria can also cause pneumonia, as well as viruses and, more rarely, fungi.

The bacterial infection can cause swelling or inflammation of the tissues in one or both of our lungs. Symptoms of pneumonia develop within 24 to 48 hours and may include coughing, difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, and chest pains.

Children

The experts noted that children are equally susceptible to pneumonia as much as adults. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), pneumonia kills more children than any other infectious disease, claiming the lives of over 700,000 children under five years old every year, including 200,000 newborns. This translates that for every 43 seconds, a child dies from pneumonia.

The practitioners lamented that this alarming reality still persists despite the wide availability of healthcare innovations that can help prevent the spread of and manage this life-threatening lung disease.

“This is why the call to #StopPneumoniaTogether has become more critical now more than ever to improve equitable and sustained access to effective pneumonia prevention and control intervention,” the group said.

First line of defense

According to experts, immunization is still the first line of defense against pneumonia. It is highly recommended for people at greater risk of catching pneumonia, namely infants under two years old, older adults over 65 years old, people with weakened or compromised immune systems, and people with chronic health conditions that affect the heart and lungs.

The Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID) recommends adults 50 years old and above to get immunized with pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccines (PPSV) or pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV) to prevent invasive pneumococcal diseases.

Luckily, with the advancement of technology and proactive approach of local government units (LGUs) in the country, people can now secure their pneumococcal vaccinations from multiple access points such as hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and community drug stores as well.

“Thanks to the Immunizing Pharmacist Certification Program of the Philippine Pharmacists Association (PPhA), pharmacists can now be trained and certified to become immunizing pharmacists, expanding the network of allied healthcare professionals pushing forward the fight against pneumonia,” they said,

“And good news for our older adults, too: Filipinos aged 60 years old and above can get their pneumonia shots for free at the barangay health centers (BHCs) of their local government units (LGUs). This was made possible through the National Immunization Program (NIP) of the Department of Health (DOH),” they added.

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Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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