How can acute respiratory conditions be prevented?

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.

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