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When children attacked by pneumonia, most of the times we would not it was Pneumonia.

Children must be guarded against rising or uncontrolled temperature. Initial medical attention is the only way to prevent mortality.

Pneumonia was an alien word to Nagesh and Shwetha until it nearly took their baby girl a few months ago. Their year and half old toddler Tejaswini, was a healthy, active baby. At the age of one, she developed wheezing and lost her appetitive, which made her cranky and unsettled 

Alarmed by the change in Tejaswini’s behaviour, her parents took her to several clinics until they finally were referred to a large government hospital.  Tejaswini was admitted for six days. Though her family were relieved that Tejaswini, finally diagnosed with pneumonia, was given medicine, they wished they had known how to prevent this sickness from occurring in the first place. They were interested to learn there are vaccines that can prevent more than half of severe pneumonia.

Neetushree: The financial burden of pneumonia

After Neetushree’s fever was accompanied by a severe cough, her parents began to worry and took her to the nearest hospital.  The diagnosis of pneumonia meant that this 1 year old toddler would have to be referred to a larger to determine the severity of her case.  Once the family arrived at this new hospital they discovered that Neetushree’s pneumonia was so severe that it required immediate surgery.  Neetushree remained in the hospital for a month after surgery.  The financial toll of having a child in the hospital for a month has caused the family to incur a large debt threatens the health of their whole family.

Pneumonia can be a costly disease when it is not treated early.  Early diagnosis and treatment for pneumonia can be done at the local level to avoid complications leading to surgery in hospital and related financial disaster.

Pneumonia kills more children under five years of age than any other illness in every region of the world. Of the estimated 9 million child deaths in 2007, around 20% or 1.8 million,2,3 were due to

Pneumonia. In spite of its huge toll on human life, relatively few global resources are dedicated to tackling this problem. Mortality due to childhood pneumonia is strongly linked to malnutrition, poverty and inadequate access to health care. Consequently, more than 98% of pneumonia deaths in children occur in 68 countries where progress in reducing under-five mortality is most critical (the “countdown to 2015” countries). The burden that pneumonia places on families and the health system in Low-resource countries in turn exacerbates inequalities; overwhelmingly, children who are poor, hungry and living in remote areas are most likely to be visited by this “forgotten killer”. 

What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs.

It causes cough and fever and can make breathing difficult.

Severe pneumonia can be deadly.

Who is most at risk?

In most developing countries, children under 5 and especially under 2 years of age are at risk. The elderly are also at risk.

Tobacco smoke and other indoor air pollution can also increase chances of being more susceptible to pneumonia. Some children and adults are at greater risk because they have other illnesses, such as AIDS. People with AIDS stand a much greater chance of dying from pneumonia. Children who are poorly nourished can also have weakened immune systems, putting them at higher risk.

What causes pneumonia? 

Many organisms can cause pneumonia.

Globally, bacteria such as Hib and pneumococcus are estimated to cause more than 50% of pneumonia deaths in children fewer than 5 years of age. Viruses and fungi can also cause pneumonia infections.

What are the symptoms of Pneumonia?

Children with Pneumonia may have a range of symptoms depending on their age and the cause of infection. Bacterial Pneumonia usually causes children to become severely ill with high fever and rapid breathing. Viral infections, however, often come on gradually and may worsen over time. Some common symptoms of Pneumonia in Children and infants include rapid or difficult breathing, cough, fever ,chills, headaches , loss of appetite and wheezing . Children under five with severe cases of Pnumonia may struggle to breathe , with their chests moving in or retracting during inhalation[Known as ‘lower chest wall in drawing]. Young infants may suffer convulsions, Unconsciousness, Hypotherma, lethargy and feeding problems.

How is Pneumonia diagnosed?

By Chest X rays and laboratory tests. Can be diagnosed only qualified Medical practioners.

Why are Children Vulnerable?

Undernourished children particularly those who are nor breasfed or with inadequate Zinc intake.

Children Living environments such a s children exposed to parents smoking, indoor air pollution, living in crowded homes are vulnerable

Preventive measures:

Breast feeding, promoting adequate nutrition [including Zinc intake], reducing indoor pollution, not exposing the children to smoking by others.

What should we do to protect our children?

Children/infants must be vaccinated against Pneumonia.

Pneumonia is an infection in lings besides everything else. The children with uncontrolled fever should get immediate medical attention. More often in rural areas or remote place it  takes time for the people to reach medical aid.

Government should include Pneumonia vaccination in the children regular vaccination system. Government should ensure that all the government hospital including primary health centers to equipped with Vaccines, necessary antibiotics apart from making adequately trained staff/doctors available.

Article sourced from WHO/Unicef publications and net in the interest of the public. Public are advised to consult the specialist Doctors for clarifications and vaccines.

Doctors are requested to send in their feedbacks ;to help the public.

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