World Pneumonia Day – A call for renewed efforts to prevent and treat pneumonia

On World Pneumonia Day, 12th November, The Union – as part of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) - calls for renewed efforts to prevent and treat pneumonia.

World Pneumonia Day takes place every year to remind us of the urgent need to raise awareness of the largest cause of death in children worldwide and to call for action to reduce the number of these avoidable deaths. 

Pneumonia is preventable and curable yet every minute two children will die from the disease - around 880,000 children under the age of five die each year. Ninety-nine percent of these deaths occur in low- or middle-income countries with 170 million children, in these areas, not having access to preventative vaccinations. Pneumonia is commonly caused by bacteria or viruses and vaccines are available to protect children from these germs and prevent the disease.

The Union's Child Lung Health Programme (CLH), originally developed to address pneumonia with the overarching goal to improve the survival and well-being of young children in low-income countries, is a case management model which is implemented through a step-wise approach, then monitored and evaluated with emphasis on reproducibility, efficacy and most importantly sustainability.

This model has shown that a significant reduction in pneumonia-related mortality can be achieved by improved management at the district hospital level.

Professor Kevin Mortimer, Director of Lung Health at The Union, said: “This World Pneumonia Day we call for everyone to rally together - governments, civil society, health care providers, researchers, funders, communities and families - to achieve improved and sustained access to effective interventions that prevent and treat pneumonia.

We need increased support for strategies to prevent pneumonia including vaccinations, achieving the highest possible levels of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, good nutrition across the life course, prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, provision of anti-retroviral therapy for people living with HIV, reduction of exposure to tobacco and air pollution, and access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

We also need effective, accessible, affordable and equitable care for people who develop pneumonia. No child should die from pneumonia. No family should suffer the distress associated with an avoidable pneumonia death.”