Three-month accelerated campaign to tackle pneumonia launched

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New Delhi, Nov 12 (PTI) A three-month accelerated campaign was launched on Thursday to focus on awareness generation and early intervention to identify critical signs and symptoms of pneumonia and trigger prompt care-seeking with qualified providers.

Save the Children, UNICEF and CHAI have partnered with the health ministry in accentuating efforts to alleviate the burden of pneumonia on the country through the initiative, which is part of the SAANS (Social Action and Awareness to Neutralise Pneumonia Successfully) campaign, according to a statement.

In an attempt to fight childhood pneumonia and mitigate the malady, the health ministry targets to reduce under-five pneumonia deaths to less than three per 1,000 lives by 2025 through the accelerated SAANS initiative, the statement said.

The campaign, launched last year, complements the National Childhood Pneumonia Management Guidelines through a three-pronged approach to protect, prevent and treat the disease among children, it added.

'The three-month accelerated campaign that starts today on November 12 will focus on awareness generation and early intervention, enabling caregivers across the country to identify critical signs and symptoms of pneumonia early, and trigger prompt care seeking with qualified providers,' it said.

Speaking at a virtual conference on government initiatives for pneumonia management, Dr Sumita Ghosh, Additional Commissioner In-charge (Child Health, RBSK, Adolescent Health, CAC and Aspirational Districts), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said the reduction of child mortality, more so from preventable diseases, is one of the important objectives under the National Health Mission.

'Through concerted efforts by the ministry and its partners under the SAANS campaign, we are intensifying capacity building of frontline health workers, ASHAs and ANMs through training and skill enhancement initiatives,' Ghosh said.

She said 45,000 health and wellness centres across the country are providing paediatric care as of now, adding, 'We are fiercely committed to building momentum and our coordinated efforts will enable India not only to defeat pneumonia but also in the progression to achieve the sustainable development goals through a behavioural change.' Anindit Roy Chowdhury, director, Programme and Policy, Save the Children India, said it is upsetting that the country still contributes so largely to childhood pneumonia deaths, despite it being an identifiable and treatable disease.

'We have also identified that the poorest and the most marginalised are the ones who are the worst affected, primarily because they are not getting the right kind of information and lack awareness...because of our care practice, we are losing the lives of marginalised children. In partnership with Phillips India, Phillips Foundation and ZMQ Technologies, we are implementing innovative approaches for prevention, diagnosis and management of childhood pneumonia under Project Vishwaas,' he said.

Pravin Khobragade, health specialist, UNICEF, said the key objective of the SAANS campaign is quality treatment for every child.

'Through an analysis of various programmes of the ministry, we have seen that to prevent child mortality and morbidity, nutrition and immunisation have been dealt with tremendous energy and force. Now the SAANS campaign will focus on quality treatment approach and strengthening facilities to enable quality treatment through capacity building of the health staff,' he said. PTI UZM RC