NEW YORK (November 12, 2015) – As part of its ongoing commitment to healthy and active aging, the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) is proud to raise awareness of World Pneumonia Day, draw attention to pneumonia’s continued prevalence in communities around the world, and promote the importance of immunization as a core strategy for prevention and wellness across the life course.
Despite major scientific advances, pneumonia – a life-threatening respiratory infection – remains a serious threat to both children and adults globally and is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. In children five years and under, pneumococcal disease causes roughly a million deaths annually, according to the World Health Organization.
With a billion people over 50 today, pneumonia is also a huge health challenge for older adults who are more likely to have compromised immune systems.
“As our population ages, pneumonia will only surge as a global threat across developed and developing countries alike,” said Michael Hodin, Chief Executive Officer of GCOA. “The good news is that pneumonia can be prevented, and in fact millions of children have been protected through these life-saving vaccinations. Unfortunately, this fundamental piece of children’s healthcare strategy around the world has yet to extend to adults in our era of longevity.”
GCOA advocates for a “life course approach to immunization.” In its 2013 report on the topic, GCOA underscored the need for a greater awareness of the role of vaccines as a preventive measure as the global population ages, highlighting that immunizations among adults remain below target levels. The result is unnecessary costs, unwanted health outcomes, and poor utilization of health resources.
Today, there are roughly 900,000 annual cases of pneumococcal pneumonia in the United States and about 400,000 hospitalizations each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. World Pneumonia Day aims to highlight the importance of interventions and encourage action so that the impact on individuals, families and health systems can be prevented.
“An emphasis on adult immunization will not only improve the health of the aging population but will also alleviate burdens on families, communities and healthcare systems,” said Hodin. “As part of the global public health community, we have a responsibility to help improve society through education on important measures for prevention and wellness. We are delighted to work with our members to raise awareness on this important day.”