Special issue of WHO Bulletin on child pneumonia
Childhood pneumonia – the single biggest killer of children under-five – is the theme of a special issue of the WHO Bulletin published in May 2008. This edition of the journal highlights research on the many aspects that drive this deadly disease and the progress now being made – progress that is a priority if Millennium Development Goal 4 to reduce child mortality is to be achieved. It contains articles on the vaccines to prevent pneumonia and improve child survival. It highlights the importance of reducing indoor air pollution as a key risk-factor for pneumonia prevention, as well as reducing the global burden of the disease through improved nutrition. It also considers the challenges to improving case-management of childhood pneumonia at health facilities in resource-limited settings, as well as the opportunities associated with managing pneumonia in the community.
In an accompanying editorial, Dr Brian Greenwood of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine considers why the control of pneumonia in children has been so neglected. He notes that two groups of effective interventions have been identified: vaccination with a safe and effective vaccine, and case management for treatment of pneumonia. He calls for an enhanced, high-level, sustained advocacy campaign so that childhood pneumonia receives the attention it deserves.
A recent step forward has been the launch of a Global Action Plan for the prevention and control of Pneumonia (GAPP) by WHO and UNICEF. The GAPP aims to accelerate overall pneumonia prevention and control in the context of integrated interventions for child survival by identifying priority activities to reduce pneumonia mortality.