Public called on to fight pneumonia

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pretoria - As World Pneumonia Day draws nearer, the South African Medical Association (SAMA) has urged South Africans to strengthen the fight against pneumonia and use the day to raise awareness and educate each other.

SAMA chairman Dr Norman Mabasa said everyone had a role to play in the fight against pneumonia and urged the public, government, healthcare professionals and policy makers in the health industry to play their part.

"We all have to raise the bar in the fight against this silent killer which has claimed the lives of our people, children included. Pneumonia is a treatable and often preventable condition which requires the country's attention," Mabasa said.

World Pneumonia Day is marked on 12 November to raise awareness of pneumonia as a public health issue and help prevent the millions of avoidable child deaths from pneumonia that occur each year.

The day is organised by the Global Coalition against Child Pneumonia - a network of international, government, non-governmental and community-based organisations, research and academic institutions, foundations and individuals. It was created in 2009 to bring much-needed attention to pneumonia among fund donors, policy makers, health care professionals and the general public.

Mabasa said that SAMA sought to raise awareness of pneumonia as a public health issue and help prevent the avoidable deaths that occur from it, especially when it is combined with HIV and Aids.

SAMA was concerned that pneumonia had not been recognised for the silent killer that it is and it had become a serious opportunistic infection in people living with HIV and Aids. Along with Tuberculosis, it has developed into one of the leading causes of deaths in HIV infected individuals.

"Between 70 percent and 80 percent of adults that are being hospitalised for pneumonia are adults that are HIV-infected. Even though in South Africa HIV infected adults only make up about 10 percent to 15 percent of the population, they are responsible for 70 percent to 80 percent of all of the hospitalisations for pneumonia.

"As we mark this day, it is important that we do so with a message of hope for those who are living with HIV and Aids as they are more susceptible to pneumonia and a message of prevention for those who are negative," said Mabasa.