World Pneumonia Day, celebrated November 12, is about encouraging innovation in the fight against child pneumonia – a common lung infection caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. According to UNICEF, pneumonia kills more children under age five than any other single health threat – an estimated 1.1 million children in 2012, accounting for 17% of all child deaths.
The good news is that pneumonia is easily treatable, and can be prevented through vaccination, proper hygienic practices, and other interventions that HAS encourages, such as exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.
HAS is doing everything it can to both treat AND prevent pneumonia.
Louis-Rony is a shy 6-year-old boy who loves to go to school and play soccer with his friends. Recently, when he developed chest and abdominal pain, and a cough that persisted for several days, his grandmother, Marie, took him to an HAS community health center. The nurses there suspected a respiratory infection, and referred him to HAS’ main hospital where the diagnosis was confirmed: pneumonia. He received medication via IV and orally, as well as close monitoring during a hospital stay of a few nights.
Louis-Rony made a full recovery. He is back home with his family, and has returned to school and pick-up soccer games.
“We have been to the HAS health center many times, but this is our first time to the hospital for something serious,” Marie says. “I am so glad we were referred to get the right care.”
HAS works to be proactive in preventing and treating cases just like Louis-Rony’s:
- HAS community health staff members identify and refer to the hospital more than 1,000 cases of acute respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, each year.
- We reach thousands of children under age 5 in our service area each year with vaccines known to prevent pneumonia, such as the pentavalent vaccine that protects children from diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), which cause pneumonia and meningitis.
- HAS promotes exclusive breastfeeding at all levels of community and hospital care.
- We regularly teach the techniques and importance of hand washing.
All of these efforts support the goals of World Pneumonia Day – and contribute to a healthier Haiti.