A number of important steps can be taken to both prevent and reduce the severity of acute upper and lower respiratory tract infections:
- Reduce environmental smoke. The source may be active or passive cigarette smoking or the smoke of indoor fires in poorly ventilated homes.
- Immunise against measles, diphtheria, whooping cough and Haemophilus influenzae in all children. Also immunise selected children with influenza and pneumococcal vaccines.
- Decrease overcrowding in homes and schools. This will lessen the exposure to many acute respiratory tract infections.
- Promote breastfeeding as exclusive breastfeeding, prevents and reduces the severity of respiratory infections.
- Give vitamin A as a depot injection or as an oral supplement.
- Improve the nutritional status of all children.
- Educate the public, especially parents, to recognise the signs of severe respiratory tract conditions so that these children can be given early, correct management.