Researchers have warned that nearly 11 million children are on course to die from pneumonia by 2030, with those living in poverty most at risk.
According to an analysis from Save the Children and Johns Hopkins University, around 10.8 million children could die from the disease over the next 12 years.
But at least a third – some four million – of these deaths could be averted if vaccination rates, treatment and child nutrition were improved, according to forecasts from the Lives Saved Tool (LiST) developed by a team at Johns Hopkins.
Pneumonia currently kills more children under five than any other infectious disease – including measles, malaria and diarrheoa – with nearly one million dying from the illness every year.
The disease affects the lungs, which become inflamed and flooded with fluid. It is caused by an infection from bacteria, viruses or parasites and in developed countries predominantly affects the elderly.
Although sub-Saharan Africa accounts for half of pneumonia deaths among children under five worldwide, funding for pneumonia prevention, management and treatment in the region remains low,” said Dr. Mark Young, UNICEF Senior Health Specialist. “More resources and more commitment at the highest level will bring us closer to stopping this disease from being a major child killer.”
Pneumonia kills nearly 1 million children under the age of five around the world, causing more deaths than HIV/AIDS, diarrhea and malaria combined. Progress in the fight against the disease has been slow compared to progress in other leading diseases. Childhood pneumonia deaths have fallen by just 50 per cent compared to an 85 per cent decline in measles deaths, and 60 per cent in deaths from malaria, AIDS and tetanus in the last 15 years.