Global Health Observatory (GHO) data

Care seeking for pneumonia

Situation and trends

Pneumonia is is the second leading cause of under-5 deaths responsible for the deaths of about 0.94 million children annually. Addressing the major risk factors for the illness (malnutrition and indoor air pollution), along with vaccination, is essential for preventing the occurrence of the disease. For deaths to be averted, good quality care is crucial. Vital treatment tools for pneumonia include antibiotics and oxygen.

Appropriate care of the sick child includes correctly diagnosing and treating pneumonia. Recent surveys (2007–2014) indicate that, worldwide, 58% of children under-five with symptoms of pneumonia are taken to an appropriate provider; in low-income countries, this coverage is 47%. Although some 451 000 lives have been saved in the last decade due to the pneumonia deaths averted, estimates suggest that the number of lives saved could reach almost 1 million if both prevention and treatment interventions to reduce pneumonia were universally delivered. Children living in rural areas, poor children, and children with poorly educated mothers are less likely to be taken to appropriate care, as compared to children from urban areas, wealthier families, and those with more educated caregivers.

Some progress has been made in care seeking for pneumonia in recent years. However, accelerated and more aggressive efforts should be taken to scale up effective interventions. Progress is possible – countries such as Egypt and Colombia have been able to significantly increase antibiotic coverage in a relatively short period of time.


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