World Pneumonia Day

12 NOVEMBER 2013 | GLOBAL

Today marks the fifth annual World Pneumonia Day and global health advocates are calling on leaders to scale up existing interventions and invest in new diagnostics and treatments to defeat pneumonia.

Pneumonia is the single largest cause of death in children under five, killing more children than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined . In 2012 , 1.1 million children under five died from pneumonia, the bulk of whom were less than 2 years old. 99% of these deaths are in developing countries, where access to healthcare facilities and treatment is out of reach for many children.

This year, the theme for World Pneumonia Day is “Innovate to End Child Pneumonia”, and the GAVI Alliance, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) are highlighting innovative solutions to end childhood pneumonia, while at the same time emphasizing that there are existing simple interventions that need to reach the most vulnerable children.

Many factors contribute to pneumonia, and no single intervention can effectively prevent, treat and control it. Five simple but effective interventions, if implemented properly, will help reduce the burden of the disease that is responsible for almost one fifth of all child deaths around the world.

These are:

  • Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and continued breastfeeding complemented by nutritious solid foods up to age 2;
  • Vaccination against whooping cough (pertussis), measles, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and pneumococcus;
  • Safe drinking water, sanitation and handwashing facilities;
  • Improved cooking stoves to reduce indoor air pollution;
  • Treatment, including amoxicillin dispersible tablets and oxygen;

Activities around the world will also focus on the clear link between pneumonia and diarrhoea , which together account for 26% of all child deaths globally, with calls for collaborative interventions to fight these two largely preventable diseases.

On World Pneumonia Day 2013, advocates have renewed their call for governments to do more to meet child survival objectives of the fourth Millennium Development Goal by increasing political commitment to and investments in the development of new diagnostics and treatments for pneumonia.

Advocates have also called on manufacturers of medical devices to step up efforts to bring technologies to market, and on donors to strengthen their support for the development and distribution of new diagnostics technologies at affordable prices.

Events commemorating World Pneumonia Day are being held in countries throughout the world and various child survival events will be held throughout the month of November.

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