World Pneumonia Day 2013

Unfortunately we still need a World Pneumonia Day. Pneumonia still kills more kids around the world than any other illness or disease.
Credit: World Moms Blog

Every year about 1.4 million kids under 5 die from pneumonia around the world. World Health Organization 

Doubly tragic because it doesn't have to be so deadly.  My own son had pneumonia when he was three and he didn't die from it. Though it scared me at the time I knew help was just a short car ride away. He went to bed with a mild cold then started having trouble breathing a few hours later and not just uncomfortable can't breath-through-stuffy-nose stuff. The real thing, the belabored, chest-heaving breaths that still haunt me along with the wet sucking sounds. I'm still amazed at how rapidly he went from being okay to not okay. He's my third child so I'd been around the block and had rushed a baby to the ER in the middle of the night before but had never experienced pneumonia.

How does pneumonia  compares to other diseases? 

AIDS kills @1.8 million people of all ages each year (2009 data).
Malaria kills @100,000 people of all ages each year (2010 data).

Nothing even close to pneumonia. 

Don't worry if you had no idea because even big wigs in public health didn't know.  When I participated in a phone call with a few pediatric doctors working in public health a couple years ago, one of them, Dr. Orin Levine from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health told us about an interview he did with the top 29 head honchos in public health. Not a single one named pneumonia as the number one killer.  Not a single one.  In fact they didn't believe him because it's so rarely in the media spotlight, especially here in the United States.

"Pneumonia is the biggest most solvable public health problem in global health...and no one knows about it." - Orin Levine

"Everyone is at risk for pneumonia."  - Orin Levine

"When I do a story on (global health) I get floods of emails and tweets saying "we have issues here, why should we care."  Why should we care? It's so preventable for so little money." - Richard Bessler, ABC News Chief Medical Editor

"It doesn't take a doctor to recognize pneumonia." - Richard Bessler.

Finally some take-aways:

It's preventable.  Vaccines, nutrition, clean cook stoves, and breastfeeding have all been linked to lower risks.  I take issue with the PROBIT breastfeeding study but not gonna take it on right here. 

It's treatable.  Via vaccines and antibiotics. 

Join the Child Survival Shot@Life Twitter Party today 1-2pm EST or 9-10pm EST. #MOMS4MDGs

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