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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid