News / Health

Pneumonia Kills One Million Kids Every Year

A Somali mother and her older child wait in line for her baby to receive a five-in-one vaccine against several potentially fatal childhood diseases, at the Medina Maternal Child Health center in Mogadishu, Somalia Wednesday, April 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben)
A Somali mother and her older child wait in line for her baby to receive a five-in-one vaccine against several potentially fatal childhood diseases, at the Medina Maternal Child Health center in Mogadishu, Somalia Wednesday, April 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben)

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
Every year, more than one million children die from pneumonia. It’s the single biggest killer of kids under age five globally. On World Pneumonia Day, health officials say there are simple, but effective ways to prevent these deaths.


The theme of this year’s World Pneumonia Day is “Innovate to End Child Pneumonia.” Dr. Elizabeth Mason is the World Health Organization’s Director of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health.

“Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs where the lung tissue itself actually gets infected. And so the oxygen, when you breathe, can’t pass through into the bloodstream. So it makes it more difficult for the child to breathe, therefore, the child can succumb to the infection.”

The type of pneumonia that usually kills is a bacterial infection, although there are viral forms of the illness.

Mason said, “Worldwide, more than one million children die under the age of five years every year. The actual number that gets pneumonia is a hundred fold that. So a billion children will be actually getting pneumonia, but most of them fortunately will actually be able to receive the antibiotics that they need.”

Most of the pneumonia deaths occur in developing countries where access to medicine may be limited. The younger the child, the more vulnerable. And being malnourished or infected with HIV, the AIDS virus, also sharply raises the risk of death.

UNICEF Senior Health Specialist, Dr. Mark Young, said many child deaths from pneumonia are preventable.

“First of all, just at a basic protection level, if a child gets good nutrition, exclusive breastfeeding, if they’ve got access to safe water and sanitation and hand washing – those sorts of things protect the child from getting pneumonia in the first place. Actually preventing, we can also use immunization. There are very effective immunizations.”

And if a child does become infected with the pneumonia bacteria?

Young said, “It is quite easily treated. We have very effective antibiotics. In particular, the recommended antibiotic is amoxicillin in a dispersible tablet format, which is very child friendly, very easy for children to take. One of the difficulties though is that the disease needs to be recognized by the caregiver, by the family. You know, the child with a cough or difficulty breathing. So that needs to be recognized and the caregiver and the family then needs to seek appropriate care in order the get the appropriate, proper treatment.”  

Many countries are improving access to treatment for pneumonia, as well as diarrhea, another major killer of young children.

Also, The GAVI Alliance, which helps to increase access to immunizations, says it’s supporting more than 50 countries to introduce the pneumococcal vaccine by 2015.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs