Pneumonia is the leading infectious killer of children under five years old.
- In 2013 alone, more than 900,000 children died from this preventable and treatable illness, accounting for 15% of under-five child mortality worldwide, 2% of which are newborns.1
- Children in poor and rural communities are most affected. The top 15 countries with the highest burden of child pneumonia deaths are India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, China, Angola, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Kenya, Bangladesh, Sudan, Uganda, Niger, and Tanzania.
- In 2008, there were an estimated 203,000 deaths due to Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and 541,000 deaths due to Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) in children under five.2
Pneumonia creates an economic burden for families, communities, and governments.
- Preventing pneumonia averts treatment costs, other loses due to illness, and allows children to become healthy, productive adults.
- Scaling up coverage of vaccines against Hib and pneumococcus in the world’s 73 poorest countries (2011-2020) would avert $51 billion dollars in treatment costs and productivity losses.3
- This increase in vaccine coverage would also save 2.9 million lives and prevent 52 million cases of illness.3
Global Pneumonia Interventions
Controlling childhood pneumonia requires an integrated package of interventions to protect, prevent, and treat the disease. Fortunately, many of the interventions targeted at pneumonia also help control other childhood diseases, such as diarrhea, and should be part of a comprehensive approach to child survival.
Protect Against Pneumonia
- Exclusive breast feeding during the first six months of life and adequate nutrition through age five protect babies from pneumonia, diarrhea, malnutrition, and other diseases.
- Regular hand washing and access to clean water and sanitation protect children against pathogens that cause pneumonia, diarrhea, and other diseases.
- Eliminating household air pollution, especially smoke from unsafe cookstoves, reduces the risk of severe pneumonia in children.
- Vaccines against pneumococcus, Hib, pertussis, and measles can prevent a significant portion of pneumonia cases from ever occurring.4
- Other preventative strategies include: zinc supplementation for children with diarrhea, prevention of HIV infection in children & antibiotic prophylaxis for HIV-infected children.4
- Antibiotics, such as amoxicillin, can prevent the majority of pneumonia deaths, and cost only about $US 0.21-0.42 per treatment course.5
- Effective, integrated case management strategies ensure that children receive proper and timely treatment for pneumonia.4
- Improving access to services and increasing awareness and demand for services within communities is crucial to controlling pneumonia.4
How can you help fight pneumonia?
- UNICEF. Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed. Progress Report 2014. Available at: http://www.unicef.org/publications/index_75736.html. Accessed September 15, 2014.
- Johnson H, O’Brien KL, Levine OS, Mantel C, Cherian T, Provisional year 2008 estimate of pneumococcal and Hib disease deaths in children under 5 years of age. Based on Black et al. Lancet 2010 and O’Brien et al Lancet 2009.
- Stack ML and Ozawa S, Decade of Vaccine Economics (DOVE) Analysis, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, International Vaccine Access Center, 2012.
- WHO, UNICEF. Global action plan for prevention and control of pneumonia (GAPP). 2009. Available at: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/2009/WHO_FCH_CAH_NCH_09.04_eng.pdf. Accessed August 15, 2012.
- United Nations Foundation. Every Woman, Every Child. Commission on Life-Saving Commodities. 2012. Available at: http://www.everywomaneverychild.org/resources/un-commission-onlife-saving-commodities/life-saving-commodities. Accessed onNovember 6, 2012.
* WHO World Health Statistics 2012. Global Health Indicators.