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One child dies of pneumonia every 39 seconds, UNICEF reports

Moms and Babies- pneumonia
By Kristelle Bechayda

More than 800,000 babies and young children have died from pneumonia last year.

Based on a new analysis from published earlier this year, there are around 802,000 children, or one child every 39 seconds, who died due to pneumonia in 2018. Nigeria, India, and Pakistan have the highest number of casualties at 162,000, 127,000, and 58,000, respectively.

Most of the children who passed away are under the age of two, while almost 153,000 babies lost their lives within the first month of life.

Given these alarming statistics, several health and children’s organizations including the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and Save The Children have launched an appeal for global action to address the problem on what they consider as a “forgotten epidemic.”

On Jan. 29 to 31 next year, the world’s first-ever conference on childhood pneumonia will take place in Barcelona, Spain where governments will discuss practical pathways they should take to meet the Sustainable Development Goal on child survival and the Global Action Plan for Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

“This is a forgotten global epidemic that demands an urgent international response. Millions of children are dying for lack of vaccines, affordable antibiotics, and routine oxygen treatment. The pneumonia crisis is a symptom of neglect and indefensible inequalities in access to health care,” says Save the Children’s chief executive, Kevin Watkins, in a press release statement by UNICEF.

Pneumonia occurs when an infection causes the air sacs in the lungs to fill with fluid or pus. While it is preventable through vaccines and easily treated with low-cost antibiotics, about 71 million children were unvaccinated in 2018.

Given that infants younger than two years old are more prone to contract pneumonia due to their weaker immune system, UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore believes that millions of lives can be saved by providing children with cost-effective preventative and treatment interventions.

“Every day, nearly 2,200 children under the age of five die from pneumonia, a curable and mostly preventable disease. Strong global commitment and increased investments are critical to the fight against this disease,” she says.

Apart from urging governments in affected countries to come up and implement their own pneumonia control strategies and improve their people’s access to primary healthcare, richer countries, private sector companies, and international donors are also enjoined to boost immunization coverage by reducing the cost of vaccines and increase the funding for research and innovation on pneumonia. 

“For decades the leading killer of children has been a neglected disease and the world’s most vulnerable children have paid the price. It’s time for governments, UN and multilateral agencies, companies and NGOs to join forces to fight pneumonia and protect these children,” ends Leith Greenslade, coordinator of Every Breath Counts.

See more at: Manila Bulletin

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dearJulius.com Philippines: One child dies of pneumonia every 39 seconds, UNICEF reports
One child dies of pneumonia every 39 seconds, UNICEF reports
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