Pneumonia is an infection that affects the lungs, which causes symptoms like coughing with mucus, fever, chills and breathing difficulties. These are similar to those that are cold or influenza in the beginning, but they last longer and are more serious. This can vary in severity and be potentially fatal. It is usually more complex when it occurs in infants and young children, adults over 65, and people with health problems or weakened immune systems.
Pneumococci is the leading bacterium that causes pneumonia, one of the contagious diseases that takes the most lives in children under 5 years worldwide.
Recently published studies reveal that, due to vaccination against this bacterium, the lethality of pneumonia has decreased in 52.7% in Colombia in recent years. It is estimated that 99% of the deaths occur in developing countries, often in the poorest and most difficult areas. Only in 2015 about 920,000 children lost their lives due to pathology.
Immunization against pneumococci can prevent the presence of pneumonia while exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life and adequate nutrition helps to ensure a good immune system for children and reduce the risk of this and other diseases.
In the case of pneumococci, the introduction of conjugate vaccines against this bacterium in immunization programs in different countries has reduced the occurrence of this cause.
Currently available vaccines are effective and with an adequate safety profile, therefore, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that they be part of global immunization programs, especially in countries with high infant mortality.
The Ministry of Health has stated that the country's vaccination system is one of the most complete in Latin America, including universal vaccination for the control of 19 diseases including immunization against pneumococci. It is estimated that, due to the expanded Colombian immunization plan, more than 85% of children under 1 year 2012 have received vaccination against this bacterium.
"We need to tackle the fight against pneumonia as part of an integrated health strategy to reduce infant mortality. By expanding the availability of vaccines, emphasizing good nutrition and remediation, providing access to treatment and exercise health professionals to diagnose and treat the disease, we can make big progress, "concluded doctor Luz Elena Moreno, medical director of vaccines in GSK.