News / Health

Pneumonia Vaccines Could Save Millions

Maria Jose Caceres, a nurse for the relief organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF), listens to the chest of a child with pneumonia, at an emergency hospital run by MSF in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, May 12, 2011.
Maria Jose Caceres, a nurse for the relief organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF), listens to the chest of a child with pneumonia, at an emergency hospital run by MSF in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, May 12, 2011.
Lisa Schlein

Health agencies are marking this year's World Pneumonia Day by touting the advancements made in the prevention and treatment of pneumonia, the biggest killer of children under age five.

Pneumonia is the leading cause of death in children worldwide.  The World Health Organization reports a child dies of pneumonia every 20 seconds and 98 percent of these deaths are in developing countries.

In total, WHO estimates nearly 1.5 million children under age five die every year from this killer disease.  That is more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.  Studies show that prevention and proper treatment of pneumonia could avert one million deaths in children every year.  

The GAVI Alliance says life-saving vaccines against pneumonia, which previously had been available mainly in rich nations, now are being introduced in developing countries.  GAVI spokesman, Jeffrey Rowland calls this a tremendous achievement.  He notes last year, nearly no poor child in the developing world was protected against pneumonia.

"Thanks to the global rollout of pneumococcal vaccines-pneumococcal being a bacterium that is the largest cause of pneumonia, 3.6 million children have been immunized against pneumonia.  By this time next year, the number is expected to rise to nearly 13.6 million," said Rowland.  "This number is a number to celebrate and celebrate loudly because it was not in existence a year ago."  

Pneumococcal vaccines have been around in the United States since 2007.  But, their prohibitive cost has made them inaccessible for people in poor countries.  Three doses are needed to protect a child against pneumonia.  Each dose costs between $85 and $110.

Rowland says through a series of complex negotiations, pharmaceutical companies have agreed to lower their prices to $3.50 per dose for developing countries.  He says the new vaccines are expected to prevent more than 70 percent of serious pneumococcal infections among children in Africa and Asia, where children have the highest risk of this disease.

But vaccines are only half the story.  Children who get sick with pneumonia have to be treated with antibiotics.  Unfortunately, many children in poor countries are not able to reach the health facilities that can offer them lifesaving treatment.

The results of a World Health Organization (WHO) study in Pakistan find most children with pneumonia, can be successfully treated at home.

WHO spokeswoman Olivia Lawe-Davies says these findings offer great hope.

"The results of that study have shown that in fact, you get just as good results, in fact even slightly better results with treating children at home with the oral antibiotic, rather than referring them, possibly because, a lot of times, when children are referred in poor, isolated communities, they never actually make it to the facility," Lawe-Davies noted.  "Or, when they get to the facility, they might not get the treatment that they are supposed to get.  So, we found that the results of the outcomes of the at-home treated children were, in fact, slightly better."

Currently, WHO recommends that children with non-severe pneumonia be treated at home.  This recent study, it notes, indicates that children with severe forms of pneumonia also could benefit from home treatment.

Lawe-Davies says WHO plans to conduct similar studies in other places.  If the results indicate that children with severe pneumonia can be effectively managed at home, she says this would make treatment more accessible and cut costs.  And, it would save more lives.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' 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.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
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 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 Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
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.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid