As the festive season beckons, Cllr Eunice Mgcina, the MMC for Health and Social Development is calling on residents of the City to increase vigilance against pneumonia and Covid-19.
“We hope that as we continue to be careful about other diseases such as Covid-19, we will not lose sight of such diseases like pneumonia,” says Cllr Mgcina.
The MMC recently led a delegation of City nurses, Doctors and officials in lighting up the Constance Bapela Council Chamber to raise awareness about the dangers of the life-threatening infection.
A worldwide campaign against pneumonia termed Pnuemolight was also recently held under the theme “Every Breath Counts”.
Cllr Mgcina encourages members of the public to consult local healthcare practitioners to access a pneumonia vaccine, which is available at all City clinics.
“The vaccine will help prevent some types of pneumonia and the flu,” she says.
Cllr Mgcina notes that vaccination guidelines have changed over time and urges patients to review their vaccination status with the local clinic.
“Do ensure children get vaccinated as well,” she says.
The world recently marked World Pneumonia Day to highlight the need for people across the globe to be alert about the dangers of one of the biggest causes of deaths in adults and children.
Last year alone, pneumonia killed about 2.5 million people, including 672 000 children.
Cllr Mgcina says pneumonia may be caused by bacteria, virus, or the fungus affecting the lungs, which causes the air sacs, or alveoli of the lungs to fill up with fluid. This leads to painful breathing and limits oxygen intake.
The common spread of bacterial and viral pneumonia is through the inhalation of airborne droplets when coughing or sneezing. Pneumonia may also be spread through blood, especially during or shortly after birth. Its symptoms include a high temperature (fever) of 38°C or above; chills; sweats; aches and pains, headache and a general sense of feeling unwell.
“People who are infected with pneumonia often have a cough, fever accompanied by shaking chills, shortness of breath, sharp or stabbing chest pain during deep breaths, and an increased rate of breathing. In elderly people, confusion may be the most prominent sign,” she explains.
Pneumonia can affect anyone. But the two age groups with the highest risk are children under 5 years and people who are aged 65 and older. Even with treatment, some people with pneumonia, especially those in high-risk groups, may experience complications.