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Unique Luncheons Mark 2011 World Pneumonia Day
A team from the Nairobi-based Child and Newborn Health Group (CNHG) organized a series of unique luncheons across the six hospitals in Kenya to raise awareness and promote action towards reducing the pneumonia burden in the country. The luncheons were a build up towards the World Pneumonia Day that is marked on 12th November of each year to advocate for solutions to pneumonia - the world’s leading killer of young children.
The key organiser of these luncheons, Dr Ambrose Agweyu explained “ Our main aim was to create awareness on the key simple approaches to tackling pneumonia among the general public. We felt that engaging health workers and caregivers of children who had actually faced this serious yet preventable and curable disease would be an effective way of doing this." Dr Agweyu further noted that "the personal experiences of caregivers of children who had survived pneumonia would make them particularly effective advocates of the messages we were sharing once they got back to their communities."
Approximately 500 people attended the luncheons which were held at six hospitals: Mbagathi District Hospital, Kerugoya District Hospital, Embu Provincial General Hospital, Kisumu District Hospital, New Nyanza Provincial General Hospital and Bungoma District Hospital. The participating hospitals are also the study sites for an ongoing multicenter clinical trial that seeks to compare the effectiveness of antibiotic treatments (oral amoxicillin versus injectable benzyl penicillin) for the treatment of severe childhood pneumonia.
At each hospital, families of children who had received treatment and survived pneumonia shared their experiences with health workers who in turn provided the families with information on pneumonia. This interaction between caregivers and health workers was deliberate to increase awareness on pneumonia signs and effective ways of preventing and treating the disease within the community while motivating hospital staff caring for children at the target hospitals.
"Staff working in public hospitals care for thousands of sick children every year and rarely ever see their patients after they are discharged from hospital." Dr Agweyu explained. "During this year’s World Pneumonia Day events, hospital staff had an opportunity to interact with their former patients away from the stressful environment of the wards. Seeing their former patients happy, healthy and thankful for the care they received provided the hospital staff with much-needed motivation to continue putting effort into their work in the face of the numerous daily challenges they face." He expounded.
Posters communicating effective approaches to preventing and treating pneumonia were also put up in strategic areas within the participating hospitals to convey the important messages on pneumonia to hospital staff, patients and visitors.See postcard examples here and here.
At each of the six events, all attendants including caregivers, hospital administrators and health workers, signed a petition targeting the Ministers of Health and Finance requesting for their action through increasing government investment in interventions known to reduce the burden of pneumonia.
The joint signing of the petition presented a powerful statement to decision makers, encouraging them to take necessary steps towards ensuring the availability of effective measures to reduce the burden of pneumonia. The large and visually appealing signed petitions were to be delivered to the relevant Ministries and would be hopefully displayed in or near their offices as constant reminders of the commitments they pledged to fulfill.
The outcomes of this event are expected to contribute to the advocacy objectives of various organizations such as the Kenya Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia (KAPP)which are interested in improving child health and childhood pneumonia . A full report on the event is available here.