Although, it is known as the biggest killer disease that affects both children and adults globally, pneumonia, a disease that kills over 1.5 million children globally on an annual basis can be prevented through Prevenar 13 vaccine.
The Prevenar 13 is a pneumococcal vaccine that contains extracts from thirteen of the most common types of Streptococcus pneumonia bacteria. These bacteria are responsible for causing invasive diseases such as pneumonia, blood poisoning and meningitis. The vaccine works by provoking the body’s immune response to the bacteria, without causing the diseases.
According to experts, pneumonia is a form of acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs, making breathing painful and limiting oxygen intake. Nearly one in five global child deaths result from pneumonia every year. Pneumococcal pneumonia mainly causes illness in children younger than five years old and adults 65 years of age or older.
So, in commemoration of the World Pneumonia Day 2014 themed ‘Fight Pneumonia and Save the Child’ medical doctors have urged Nigerians to vaccinate their children in order to save them.
According to the Deputy Director Medicals, Nigerian Television Authority Clinics, Dr.Agberien Martina, who spoke during a media parley organised by Pfizer NEAR Head Office in Ikoyi, Lagos at the weekend, “the elderly are especially at the risk of getting seriously ill and dying from this disease. In addition, people with certain medical conditions, such as chronic heart, lung, or liver diseases, or sickle cell anaemia are also at increased risk for getting pneumococcal pneumonia. People exposed to HIV/AIDS or people who have had organ transplants – are vulnerable to this disease.”
Speaking on the theme ‘Expanded use of Prevenar 13 on adults and individual’, she explained that the disease also affects cigarette smokers and those who inhale the smoke – the secondary smokers. “But to prevent it, you should avoid close contact with sick people and adhere to the new lifestyle of washing of hands,” she said.
Dr.Agberien added that pneumonia can infect the upper respiratory tract and can spread to the blood, lungs, middle ear or nervous system. “It is spread through contact with people who are ill or who carry the bacteria in their throats. You can get pneumococcal pneumonia from respiratory droplets from the nose or mouth of an infected person. It is common for people, especially children, to carry the bacteria in their throats without being sick.”
Meanwhile, the Chairperson, Nigerian Medical Association National Committee on World Health Organization’s Activities, Dr.DumebiOwa has said that charcoal fires and the use of firewood in homes, lack of vaccination as well as the abuse of alcohol can increase the risk of getting the disease.
She said: “There is poverty in the land. And, once there is poverty there is disease. A total of 150 million people are exposed to this disease while over 11 million children are hospitalised.”
She advised that exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life is very important saying, “mothers should feed their babies with human milk (breast) not animal milk. Human milk helps them grow better, protects them against pneumonia and diarrhoea among others. Leave the animals to feed their kids with animal milk.”
According to Owa, “the current level of breastfeeding among women is 36 per cent, which is very low. After all, good nutrition is known to increase the level of growth. “The war against pneumonia should not be political.”
She explained that healthy lifestyle and vaccination against diseases are important to long life. “There are more than 100 chemicals in cigarette, even the Federal Ministry of Health warns that tobacco smokers are liable to die young yet people smoke. This is a preventable and treatable illness via vaccines, antibiotic treatment, and improved sanitation. Medical practitioners also assured that the vaccine would help reduce the number of death, which is more than 1.5million deaths in children annually worldwide. Practice good hygiene regularly, wash your hands with soap and water, discard tissue immediately and appropriately