To mark the 4th annual World Pneumonia Day, on November 12, the Global Coalition Against Child Pneumonia and world leaders called for efforts to fight childhood pneumonia to be stepped up. Global health leaders gathered to come up with solutions to this problem, as childhood pneumonia remains the number one killer of children under the age of 5.
“Pneumonia can be prevented and cured,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “Yet, for too long it has been the leading cause of global deaths among children. We know what to do, and we have made great progress—but we must do more.” Ki-moon spearheads Every Woman Every Child, a movement that raises funds for women and children’s health.
Investments and solutions in preventing, treating, and protecting children against pneumonia have contributed to the decline in child mortality over the past 10 years, but access to health care facilities and treatment remain out of reach of many children in the developing world, where 99% of deaths from pneumonia occur. Less than one third of the children with suspected pneumonia have access to antibiotics.
According to the Global Coalition Against Child Pneumonia, country leaders and funders must prioritize efforts and investments. This includes access to vaccines, proper antibiotic treatments, and improved sanitation, as well as the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding, frequent hand washing, care seeking, and the use of clean cook stoves to reduce indoor air pollution.
Over the past 3 years, the GAVI Alliance has assisted over 20 countries to introduce the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, which prevents the most common cause of childhood pneumonia. Efforts such as Save the Children’s Every Beat Matters campaign work to bring attention to the shortage of frontline health workers, as they are the key to getting the vaccines and treatments to the children who need them the most.