We must do more to prevent and treat pneumonia, says international respiratory group

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In support of World Pneumonia Day, 12 November, the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) calls for renewed efforts to prevent and treat pneumonia.

Pneumonia is one of the most preventable and treatable illnesses in global health, yet every minute two children die from this illness, primarily because they are denied the benefits of prevention, accurate diagnosis and treatment.

The stats are dismal:

Pneumonia is also a common cause of death or illness in the elderly and is the single most common cause of death from infectious disease in this group.

Pneumonia is commonly caused by different germs that may be bacteria or viruses. Vaccines are available to protect children from some of the common germs and these can prevent pneumonia.

Exclusive breastfeeding for the first four to six months of life, adequate complementary feeding and good nutrition can also help to prevent pneumonia. Avoiding cigarette smoke exposure or indoor air pollution, especially during pregnancy and the early childhood years, is important to reduce the risk of pneumonia and severe illness. Reducing HIV infection and early use of antiretroviral therapy and antibiotics are effective to prevent pneumonia in HIV-infected children and adults.

To treat pneumonia, case management guidelines that include indications for hospital referral and the use of antibiotics are effective.

To reduce pneumonia cases and deaths we need to:

No child should die from pneumonia. No family should suffer the distress associated with a pneumonia death.

FIRS calls upon governments, health care providers, researchers, funders and families to ensure:

  1. Improved and sustained access to effective interventions that prevent and treat pneumonia.
  2. Strengthened health systems that promptly and effectively deliver strategies to reduce pneumonia deaths, including provision of effective antibiotics and oxygen delivery systems.
  3. Increased support for strategies to prevent pneumonia including prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, provision of anti-retroviral therapy for HIV-infected children, reduction of exposure to tobacco and air pollution, and access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
  4. Research support for innovative diagnostic, prevention and treatment strategies.

Find out more here

About the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS)

The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) is an organisation comprised of the world's leading international respiratory societies working together to improve lung health globally: American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), American Thoracic Society (ATS), Asian Pacific Society of Respirology (APSR), Asociación Latino Americana De Tórax (ALAT), European Respiratory Society (ERS), International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases (The Union), Pan African Thoracic Society (PATS), Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), and the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD).

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.