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All about precautions to prevent pneumonia health & lifestyle

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Creating awareness: Chief Secretary K.S. Sripathi (centre), hands over a poster on prevention and control of pneumonia to Principal Secretary, Health, V.K. Subburaj in Chennai on Thursday. Rotary International District 3230 governor A. Subramaniam is in the picture.
Creating awareness: Chief Secretary K.S. Sripathi (centre), hands over a poster on prevention and control of pneumonia to Principal Secretary, Health, V.K. Subburaj in Chennai on Thursday. Rotary International District 3230 governor A. Subramaniam is in the picture.

Ramya Kannan

CHENNAI: Pneumonia can be caused by fungal, viral or bacterial infections. No contesting that. But did you know that the risk factors for pneumonia include malnutrition, low birth weight, living in overcrowded places, lack of exclusive breast feeding, and environmental pollution? There is therefore something we can actually do to prevent pneumonia.

A campaign launched in Chennai by the Rotary Club of Madras and the Tamil Nadu government jointly on Thursday sought to do just this — spread awareness of what pneumonia is and how it is easily treatable with early diagnosis. Releasing a poster on the occasion, Chief Secretary K.S. Sripathi said there was a pressing need to build awareness of pneumonia, its prevention and treatment.

The world over, there are two million deaths each year due to pneumonia. A total of 150 million children are affected, of which 43 million are in India. Of the 20 lakh deaths among children globally, four lakh are from India and Tamil Nadu accounts for 10,000 deaths. “It is also a leading cause of neonatal deaths and there is an urgency to do something about it,” Principal Secretary, Health, V.K. Subburaj said.

“We have to deal with all the risk factors – malnutrition, pollution, low birth weight, breast feeding – if we need to bring down the total number of cases. The only way to do this is to ensure that mothers know the relevance of these factors in the health of their child,” he said.

Director of Public Health S. Elango said the campaign launched along with Rotary International would focus on these preventive methods as well. It would also talk about signs of pneumonia – fever, cold, heavy breathing leading to respiratory distress – so that parents could rush their children to the doctor at the right time.

He added that serious cases would need hospitalisation. But ideally, it would be prudent to catch the infection early and treat it with drugs at home. The State government would soon make HiB vaccine part of its immunisation programme, and this would help prevent at least 10.5 per cent of all pneumonia deaths.

Rotary International District 3230 governor A. Subramaniam said the exercise was undertaken after consultations with public health officials revealed that pneumonia was a major cause of death among children under five. Pursuing the Rotary goal of cutting down under-five mortality, the Club had decided to print posters (20,000 of them) containing information on preventing pneumonia deaths to be displayed at primary health centres and anganwadis in the State.

“The fact is that it is so easy to prevent deaths due to pneumonia. We also have to tell mothers about the importance of good prenatal care to ensure good birth weight of the baby, spacing out pregnancies in order to provide exclusive breast milk for at least six months for the baby,” said R. Sriram, Rotary District 3230 health committee chairman.

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