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A great initiative by Central Government on World Pneumonia Day……

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Pratyusha Mukherjee : 12th. November, 2020. Central Government Initiative to curb child deaths caused by Pneumonia
MOHFW, Government of India launched SAANS campaign 2020
Initiative on World Pneumonia Day to bring focus on Childhood Pneumonia.

A crucial initiative in the view of ongoing pandemic COVID-19.

To bring focus on Childhood Pneumonia, Ministry of Health and family welfare, Govt of India launched SAANS (Social Awareness and Action to Neutralize Pneumonia Successfully) campaign 2020 on Thursday, the World Pneumonia Day. The aim of the initiative is to strengthen treatment and management of childhood pneumonia including availability of necessary supplies, capacity building of health care providers and large scale awareness generation on childhood pneumonia.

This year, the campaign is more crucial in the view of ongoing pandemic COVID-19, Corona infection may not be very serious for children as a whole, but Pneumonia, especially bacterial pneumonia remains a very serious disease in children, contributing to a large number of child deaths in our country. The SAANS initiative was originally launched in November 2019 and for the year 2020-21, starting from November 12, the campaign will continue till 28th February 2021.

According to Dr Atul Gupta, President West Bengal Academy of Pediatrics, “Pneumonia in children is a major cause of school absenteeism and under five deaths. Early recognition, proper treatment and vaccination can help reduce this. Overcrowding, pollution and malnutrition adds upto the mortality figures. Government is providing a lot of vaccines free of cost helpful in preventing some causes of pneumonia and people should take advantage of this.”

It is worth mentioning here that globally and in India too, Pneumonia contributes to about 14% of all under-five deaths. In a year, about 30 lakh cases of severe pneumonia occur in the children of our country and more than 5 children per 1000 live births die due to pneumonia in a year in India. The Goal is to reduce pneumonia deaths in children to 3 per 1000 live births by 2025.

For reducing morbidity & mortality from childhood pneumonia, the SAANS initiative encompasses a three tiered strategy including revised treatment protocol, skill based capacity building of service providers and communication campaign. During the campaign focus will be on accelerating action against Childhood Pneumonia by generating awareness around protect, prevent and treatment aspects of Childhood Pneumonia. The campaign’s emphasis will be on early detection, vaccination, appropriate treatment, exclusive breastfeeding promotion, awareness about adequate and safe complementary feeding, and care seeking behavior among parents and caregivers.

“We have been trained on how to assess children for detecting pneumonia. Children with mild cough and cold can be managed by us, but those with symptoms and signs indicating pneumonia are given initial treatment and referred to doctors. ASHAs are also trained to detect danger signs in children during home visits and refer them appropriately.” an ANM from West Bengal mentioned.

It is a well-established fact that unlike diarrhea in children, which is easily detected by parents, often pneumonia gets undetected in the early stages. According to Dr. Kaninika Mitra, Health Specialist, UNICEF West Bengal, “when a child who has cough and cold starts to have rapid breathing or shows indrawing of chest while taking breaths, she should be suspected of having pneumonia. She may have difficulty in breastfeeding and may become lethargic also. If any of this happens, the child should be referred to a health care provider immediately. For young infants especially, in the case of severe pneumonia, referral should be timely so that oxygen and antibiotics can be started early, to save the child. It is important that parents are aware about these danger signs and all health care providers, including frontline workers are also able to detect pneumonia in children early for appropriate and timely care and referral.”

(By Pratyusha Mukherjee, a senior Journalist working for BBC News and other Indian Media outlets, also a special contributor of News Stardom)

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