DID YOU KNOW: That the top two leading causes of death among children less than 5 years old worldwide are PNEUMONIA and DIARRHEA?
According to Dr. Sally Gatchalian the Director of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination, that here in the Philippines an average of 37 children die of Pneumonia each day while 13 succumbs to Diarrhea every day. The revelation was made during the #NoHopeLost special forum on Pneumonia and Diarrhea held last Tuesday at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel organized by GlaxoSmithKline.
These numbers are made even more alarming upon learning that both diseases are preventable and that vaccines are readily available here in the country. So what seems to be the problem and why are the mortality and morbidity rates still very high?
According to Dr. Gatchalian, the numbers are almost the same worldwide specially with Diarrhea who’s main culprit is the Rotavirus Gastroenteritis (RVGE) which she described as a ‘democratic’ type of virus because it is present in all kinds of environment, even the most advanced first world countries are burdened by it. Rotavirus infects virtually every child within the first 5 years of life, irrespective of race or socioeconomic status.
Dr. Gatchalian with Ria Tanjuatco Trillo and Barbie Almalbis Honasan
Pneumonia on the otherhand, is the single greatest cause of death in children worldwide. It is an inflammatory condition of the lower respiratory tract which affects primarily the microscopic air sacs known as alveoli of the lungs. The typical symptoms of pneumonia includes cough, chest pain, fever, and difficulty breathing. Pneumonia may be caused by viruses, fungi, parasites and bacteria. The deadliest of which was known to be caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus Pneumoniae also known as pneumococcus.
But NO CHILD HAS TO DIE because of Pneumonia or Rotavirus Diseases since like Dr. Gatchalian said, both are highly preventable. Early protection is the key to reduce disease burden.
“It’s the best time to raise awareness on pneumonia and diarrhea prevention. These diseases should not cause unnecessary suffering to young children,” says Dr. Sally Gatchalian
During the forum, Dr. Gatchalian presented the Integrated Global Action Plan for Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD) and its Protect, Prevent and Treat Framework.
WHAT IS OUR GOVERNMENT DOING TO ADDRESS THIS PROBLEM?
In 2012, the Philippine government has already acknowledged this burden and addressed it by introducing Rotavirus Vaccine (RV) in the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) where 700,000 Filipino children aged 6 weeks up to 6 months of age were given free rotavirus vaccines.
In 2013, the Department of Health (DOH) leveled up the fight against the top killer of Filipino children by including another novel vaccine called Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) in the EPI.
This combined effort to protect Filipino children against pneumonia and diarrhea contributes to the achievement of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 of reducing infant and child mortality by 2/3 by 2015. RV and PCV are novel vaccines introduced by the DOH in the last 5 years and the Philippines is the first country in the ASEAN region to introduce both vaccines in the EPI.
Meanwhile, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) continues to be a committed partner of both private healthcare practitioners and the government in the fight against childhood diseases, death and suffering around the world by offering health solutions for the reduction of overall diseases.
The NO HOPE LOST campaign which embodies the need for immediate action to get children vaccinated against pneumonia and diarrhea, will soon be launched through radio ads, print notices, flyers, and posters.
“With the help of our dear pediatricians, and the Department of Health, we are committed to the reduction of pneumonia and diarrhea cases nationwide by supplying high quality vaccines. These diseases account for an alarming almost 50 mortalities per day in the Philippines. GSK is here to support the Filipino medical community and the government’s drive to make health services accessible to everyone,” added Philip Cruz, GSK Medical Director.
Joining the crusade against Pneumonia and Rotavirus Diseases are Host and TV Personality RIA TANJUATCO TRILLO, who also hosted the forum, and singer BARBIE ALMALBIS HONASAN.
In support of the campaign, participants of the forum had their pictures taken holding the #NoHopeLost banner and pasted it on a special campaign board located inside the venue.
It is indeed sad that a lot of children are lost each day to diseases that are already preventable. I hope that the #NoHopeLost campaign would be successful in educating families all over the country about the importance of getting their kids vaccinated against pneumococcus and rotavirus so that No Further Lives will be Lost to Pneumonia and Diarrhea.