Monday marked the 10th annual World Pneumonia Day where global health advocates called on leaders to scale up existing interventions and invest in new diagnostics and treatment to beat pneumonia.
New analysis conducted by Johns Hopkins University and Save the Children revealed that pneumonia is on course to kill nearly 11 million children by 2030.
The grim statistics released on World Pneumonia Day showed that more than four million of these deaths could be easily averted with concerted action to improve rates of vaccination, treatment and nutrition.
In 2017, the then Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu had noted that an estimated 1,000 children die in Kenya annually as a result of pneumonia and diarrhoea, which are preventable and treatable conditions.
However, scaling up vaccination coverage to 90 percent of children under the age of five could save 610,000 lives; providing cheap antibiotics could save 1.9 million; and ensuring children have good nutrition could save 2.5 million children.
“There are no pink ribbons, global summits or marches for pneumonia. But for anyone who cares about justice for children and their access to essential healthcare, this forgotten killer should be the defining cause of our age,” Save the Children Kenya Country Director Ms. Wang Le said.
The statistics continue to paint a grimmer picture saying that without action, Africa’s most populous nation Nigeria is likely to lose 1,730,000, children, India 1,710,000, Pakistan-706,000 and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)- 635,000.
The disease is the biggest infectious killer for children globally, killing more than malaria, diarrhea and measles combined.
880,000 children, mostly under the age of two, died from the disease in 2016, the most recent year for which full data is available.
The research shows that if all three overlapping interventions were carried out by 2030, the model suggests a total of 4.1 million deaths could be averted.
This bearing in mind that 2030 is the target date for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include an ambitious global pledge to “end preventable child deaths” and achieve Universal Health Coverage.