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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs