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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More