The urgent global crisis we face is the battle against pneumonia, the single most devastating infectious killer of both adults and children. In 2019, a staggering 2.5 million lives were claimed by pneumonia, among them 672,000 innocent children worldwide. The convergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the looming threat of climate change, and various other external health challenges has exacerbated a pneumonia crisis that now threatens people across all stages of life.
In 2021, the burden of respiratory infections, including COVID-19, resulted in a harrowing 6 million deaths. It is our youngest and oldest populations who are most vulnerable. Protecting our children is paramount, especially in regions grappling with declining vaccination rates, mounting malnutrition due to food scarcity, and the use of polluting fuels for cooking and heating. UNICEF has forewarned of increased child mortality if immediate measures are not taken, including the provision of oxygen and antibiotics. Children's susceptibility to pneumonia arises from their developing immune systems and the waning antibodies received from their mothers.
Meanwhile, adults face risks associated with air and industrial pollution, as well as behaviors like smoking. Nearly half of the 1.6 million pneumonia deaths among adults over 50 are attributed to air pollution and smoking. In the Philippines, now more than ever, the government, in collaboration with all concerned partners and stakeholders, must reevaluate pneumonia treatment and interventions with a fresh perspective. The well-being of Filipinos, spanning all age groups, should be a top priority, encompassing policy-making and on-the-ground implementation within barangays and communities.
In this regard, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), in partnership with Pfizer, is hosting a webinar entitled "Vaccination 360 – The Need to Protect Adults and Children Against Pneumonia" to raise awareness about the effects of pneumonia, emphasize the importance of protecting citizens of all ages, and foster collaboration between the government, healthcare organizations, and the private sector in co-creating solutions to address this critical topic.