News / Health

UN Calls for Action on Pneumonia in Children

Abdulle Ibrahim, holds his son Adam Ibrahim at the International Rescue Committee, IRC, clinic in the town of Dadaab, Kenya, July 29, 2011.
Abdulle Ibrahim, holds his son Adam Ibrahim at the International Rescue Committee, IRC, clinic in the town of Dadaab, Kenya, July 29, 2011.
Lisa Schlein
The United Nations is observing World Pneumonia Day on November 12 by calling on country leaders to spring into action to reduce child deaths from pneumonia. U.N. and other health agencies say the world has the means to save hundreds of thousands of children’s lives from this preventable disease.

Pneumonia kills more children than any other disease in the world. The U.N. Children’s Fund reports every 25 seconds a child dies from pneumonia. It kills 3,400 children a day or 1.3 million a year. By this calculation, pneumonia accounts for 18 percent of the 6.9 million child deaths a year.   

As with many other diseases, the main victims are the world’s poorest, most marginalized children. They are the ones who cannot afford the treatments and vaccines that could save their lives. UNICEF spokeswoman, Marixie Mercado, says 90 percent of all child deaths from pneumonia occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

“But, it is easily preventable and it is easily treatable," she said. "Basically, the evidence shows that if the poorest households had the same basic interventions that are available to the richest households, millions of children would live instead of die, due to a totally preventable disease.”

Pneumonia can result from vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and whooping cough. About 85 percent of the world’s children receive these life-saving vaccines. The poorest do not. UNICEF is calling for universal vaccine coverage so all children, even the poorest, are protected.  

Streptococcus pneumonia and Haemophilus influenza type b are two major causes of bacterial pneumonia. They can be prevented through PCV and Hib vaccines. Most low- income countries have introduced the influenza type b Hib vaccines against pneumonia. But, UNICEF’s Mercado says the introduction of PCV vaccines in low-income countries is proceeding at a slower pace.   

“The same is true with treatment," she said. "Right now, less than a third of children with pneumonia received antibiotics in developing countries. Just recently, a report by the U.N. Commission on Life Saving Commodities estimated that over 1.5 million children could be saved if amoxicillin - an antibiotic that costs 30 centimes per treatment dose, were more widely available.” 

Children in poorer countries are at higher risk of getting pneumonia, a respiratory disease, than those in richer countries because of indoor air pollution. Low-income households burn wood, dung and coal for cooking or heating, with poorly ventilated fires and stoves. Overcrowded homes also contribute to higher levels of childhood pneumonia.

Health experts say a number of preventive measures other than vaccines and antibiotics are effective in staving off pneumonia. These include safe drinking water and improved sanitation, as well as the promotion of practices such as exclusive breastfeeding and use of clean cook stoves to reduce indoor air pollution.

They say frequent hand washing with soap and water reduces the incidence of pneumonia by 23 percent. Unfortunately, they note hand washing is not routinely practiced in most developing countries, especially among the poor.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid