New pneumonia cases hit 156m annually
New York, US, November 13, 2013
An estimated 156 million new cases of pneumonia occur every year, 97 per cent of them in the world’s poorest countries, according to the World Lung Foundation’s Acute Respiratory Infections Atlas.
About 74 per cent of those cases occur in just 15 countries, mostly in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, with 43 million cases in India alone, it said.
The WTF has called for greater investment in innovation and a focus on improving healthcare provision, particularly in low income countries, as part of World Pneumonia Day, aimed at reducing the global toll of pneumonia.
Pneumonia is the primary cause of death of children under the age of five, killing more children than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
Around 1.1 million child deaths were caused by pneumonia in 2012, representing 17 per cent of total deaths of children under five.
Pneumonia occurs when the sacs of the lungs, known as alveoli, become filled with pus and fluid, limiting oxygen intake and making it hard to breathe. A bacterial or viral pathogen can be the primary cause of pneumonia, or it can be a complication of other infections, including influenza, measles, tuberculosis, or HIV.
In vulnerable populations, pneumonia is a disease of poverty and occurs most commonly when a child’s still-developing defense system is weakened by malnutrition, air pollution, co-infections with HIV/AIDS and measles, or low birthweight.
In wealthier nations, adults over 65 years old and people with chronic health problems bear the greater burden of pneumonia. Seven to 13 per cent of pneumonia cases are severe enough to require hospitalisation.
Dr Neil Schluger, chief scientific officer, WLF, said: “In the past two decades, governments and the global health community have made significant progress in reducing the global toll of pneumonia. However, such a preventable and treatable illness still is far too common among the most vulnerable in our society, particularly children under the age of five in the places with the fewest health resources.
“Adopting a three-fold approach will help us make further progress. First, we need to do more to reduce infection through encouraging simple hygiene, reducing indoor air pollution and increasing resistance to infection through breastfeeding and improved nutrition.
“Second, we need to scale up access to existing antibiotics, vaccines and oxygen systems. Children in countries that do not have access to vaccines are 40 times more likely to die than those living in countries that administer the vaccines routinely. Finally, we need to better support the diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia by investing in innovative diagnostic tools and treatments.” - TradeArabia News Service