World Pneumonia Day: The Importance of Education and Prevention

To mark World Pneumonia Day, the Global Conference for World Pneumonia Day will be held on Thursday, 12 November, and will underscore the importance of education and prevention to reduce deaths from the world’s leading infectious killer. Additionally, for the very first time and in support of PneumoLight’s Worldwide Pneumonia Awareness Campaign, 216 landmarks from 47 countries will light up in blue to draw attention to the importance of a disease whose severity is underestimated.

Dr. Catia Cillóniz, researcher at the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, is the organiser of the conference and the PneumoLight campaign. She currently serves as the​coordinator of pneumonia research for the investigative group Applied Research in Infectious Respiratory Diseases and Critically Ill Patients at Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS).

A disease that affects us all

Pneumonia is an infectious respiratory disease that affects the lungs and is associated with high mortality, especially among children under five and the elderly. In 2019, approximately 700,000 children and 1,000,000 elderly people died worldwide due to pneumonia, according to the Global Burden of Disease.

“Misperceptions about pneumonia are alarming. Our society knows little about this disease, and even less about its impact on general health. There is a widespread belief that pneumonia affects only specific subgroups of vulnerable people,” states Catia Cillóniz. "For some individuals, pneumonia may be associated with only a few clinical symptoms; however, for others, the disease can manifest as a fulminant systemic infection comprising respiratory failure, multi-organ dysfunction and death," she adds.

Global conference on education and prevention of pneumonia

Coinciding with World Pneumonia Day, a global conference on pneumonia will be held, featuring leading researchers in disease treatment and prevention. The event, which has been promoted by the Hospital Clínic, was organized by Dr. Catia Cillóniz with the support of the Every Breath Counts coalition. It will address the global burden of pneumonia; the role of vaccinations in pneumonia prevention; the importance of early diagnosis and a multidisciplinary approach; and pneumonia within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event will be opened by Dr. Josep M. Campistol, General Director at the Hospital Clínic, Dr. Antoni Trilla, Head of the Department of Epidemiology at the Hospital Clínic and Dean of the Department of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Barcelona, and Dr. Antoni Torres, pulmonologist at the Hospital Clinic and Head of the investigative group, Applied Research in Infectious Respiratory Diseases and Critically Ill Patients at IDIBAPS (spell out). Amongst many others, representatives from UNICEF, the World Health Organization, Save the Children, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and different scientific societies from around the world will participate.

Regarding the conference, Catia Cilloniz highlights that "it is important that [we as] researchers share our knowledge and advances in this area via an information-led approach, so society can learn about the public health problem that arises from pneumonia."

The conference will be streamed live on YouTube from 16.00hCET. To consult the programme and conference speakers, click on this link.

PneumoLight: a non-profit, collaborative project to raise awareness about pneumonia

PneumoLight will use social media to distribute science-based information to raise awareness about a completely preventable disease. A five-year project, PneumoLight has committed to lighting up landmarks from around the world to inaugurate the first year and bring visibility to pneumonia during World Pneumonia Day. It is not simply a matter of lighting up monuments, but instead an effort to raise awareness amongst authorities and citizens. Currently, 47 countries have joined the initiative, comprising a total of 216 landmarks to light up in blue on 12 November between 21.00h and 22.00h.

"Pneumonia can affect anyone. With this action, we hope to make a disease whose severity is underestimated more visible,” says Catia Cillóniz. "Much remains to be done with respect to educating the population about the importance of healthy lifestyles and the key role of vaccination in pneumonia prevention," she adds.

PneumoLight is supported by Pfizer with the collaboration of the the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, University of Barcelona (UB), Institute of Global Health Barcelona (ISGLOBAL), and the main scientific societies in respiratory and infectious diseases including the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), European Lung Foundation (ELF) and Spanish Society for Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology (SEIMC), amongst others.

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