LOCAL health authorities are stepping up efforts to address prevailing cases of pneumonia, one of the leading causes of deaths among elderly people in Bacolod City.
Bacolod City Health Office assistant health officer Dr. Jovy Vergara, on the sidelines of the immunization activity at the BAYS Center in the city Thursday, January 23, said pneumonia currently ranks second and third in terms of morbidity and mortality among 60 years old and above.
Vergara said such disease is lethal, or life-threatening, among senior citizens compared to young ones.
“Pneumonia among elderly people especially those with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is more dangerous as their immune system is weaker,” he stressed, adding that most elderly patients seek treatment during the last stage of the disease.
Pneumonia is a disease that causes inflammation of the air sacs in one or both lungs. It can be caused by a variety of organism including bacteria, viruses and fungi.
Symptoms may include difficulty of breathing, coughing, fever and weakness.
Aside from weakened immune system, elderly patients with pneumonia are more prone to sever complications, hospitalization and death also due to pre-existing health conditions and illnesses such as diabetes, chronic lung disease, and kidney or heart conditions, among others.
In the Philippines, pneumonia remains to be a pressing health concern.
Records showed that within the past decade, pneumonia accounted for over 57,000 deaths among Filipinos annually.
In 2010 alone, 57,809 deaths due to pneumonia was recorded making it the top five leading causes of death in the country.
Vergara, however, said pneumonia is a vaccine-preventable disease. Thus, the government is putting premium on various programs like free vaccination especially among the elderly.
In Bacolod City, almost 1,000 senior citizens including persons with disabilities (PWDs) age 50 years old and above have availed of the free pneumonia and flu vaccination yesterday.
Other recipients included immune-compromised patients like those with HIV/Aids, diabetes, congestive heart failure, and those underwent organ transplant.
Dubbed “Bakunado si Lolo at Lola, Iwas Pulmonya,” the campaign is a collaboration of the local government and various partners including global health care company MSD.
It is aimed at restoring vaccine confidence and address misinformation about immunization.
Vergara said the immunization is also in support to the efforts of the Department of Health (DOH) in Region 6 which provided the vaccines.
“The aim really is to ensure the welfare and health of our senior citizens,” the health official said, adding that pneumonia vaccine is given for free at the health centers “so we are urging our senior citizens to avail such service from the government.”
MSD, in a statement, said the partnership with the city government is intended to strengthen public-private sector collaboration in promoting the importance of a life-course vaccination from birth to old age.
“MSD has continuously worked to develop and bring forth innovative medicines and vaccines to help save and improve lives for more than a decade now,” it said, adding that “it has been actively supporting local government units build vaccine-resilient communities and informing the public of the benefits of vaccination.”
For his part, Federation of Senior Citizen Associations in Bacolod City president Edgardo Superticioso said at least 30 of their members die every month and almost half of the figure is due to pneumonia.
The federation is currently comprised of about 40,000 member-elderly from 72 associations in 61 barangays in the city.
“This is the day for senior citizens, we are thankful as we are chosen as beneficiaries of this program,” he said, adding that the vaccination program will surely lessen the number of mortality among their members.
Meanwhile, also present during the activity are representatives of the DOH, other city health officials, and Councilors Archie Baribar and Cindy Rojas, chair of the City Council committee on senior citizen and health, respectively.