Yesterday marked the celebration of the 5th Annual World Pneumonia Day. The event coincide with the 14th Philippine National Immunization Conference which was held at Summit Ridge Hotel in Tagaytay City, Philippines.
The program was spearheaded by no less than the Philippines’ dancing secretary Dr. Eric Tayag together with some gorgeous local dance icons, the Maneuvers, for a dance exercise.
A ceremonial vaccination campaign was also conducted. Five mothers from Tagaytay City together with their infants were invited to participate.
There was also a huge symbolic cake that was presented to make the occasion more festive and party-like.
Pneumonia is currently the leading cause of children’s death worldwide especially those under the age of five, the reason why they never get the chance to celebrate their 5th birthday. In 2012 alone, it has claimed the lives of 1.1 million children which is more than the deaths caused by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
The Philippines being a developing country is among those that are highly at-risk from pneumonia occurrence. Even this health condition is highly preventable, still it has become a major death-cause among children primarily due to limited access to health care facilities and treatment as well as parent’s or the mother’s lack of education and understanding about it.
The good news is, as a response to call for action to prevent pneumonia deaths, the Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) has made available the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) in most local health centers. The program will soon become of universal coverage, that is, it will be mandatory available and part of the Philippine Epidemiology Program. Other than medical interventions, there will be continuous support for health care workers to help them encourage mothers to breastfeed, practice good sanitation and learn more about nutritional practices.
It used to be that PCV is really very expensive. Some years back, I had my little boy given this vaccine as recommended by out pediatrician he has weak lungs having experienced bronchitis episode and was already hospitalized when he was just 10 months old. The vaccine costs me several thousands of pesos but I think I had no choice because I am after the well-being of my son.
But for some who lack the means, this vaccine is one of those that was often neglected. Only after something terrible happened that they will realized its importance. Although it is not a hundred percent guarantee that the vaccine will prevent a child to be disease stricken, at least it will provide a good protection. Being a mother myself I am personally glad it is now available for free. I share the vision of the Philippine government that soon, no child will ever die of pneumonia; that more children will get to celebrate their 5th birthday and beyond.