Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

A Day to Focus - and Act - on Pneumonia

Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

A Day to Focus - and Act - on Pneumonia

Article excerpt

Every year, two million children die of pneumonia, the world's leading infectious child killer. The disease claims another young life every 1 5 seconds - more than measles, malaria and AIDS combined - yet many clinicians, health workers and policy makers remain unaware of the scale of this preventable epidemic. The New York Times recently dubbed pneumonia the "orphan of global health."

The first World Pneumonia Day - launched by a coalition of child health organizations, including the Sabin Vaccine Institute's Pneumococcal Awareness Council of Experts (PACE) - to raise awareness of this public health crisis and spur urgent action to address it, took place on November 2nd. Pneumonia deaths in children are largely unnecessary and an example of a sizeable health inequity because more than 2,000 children in developing countries die for every one child that dies of the disease in an industrialized country. As such, it is critical that as doctors and scientists we lend our voices and networks to the fight.

While early diagnosis and treatment can save lives, vaccines are the single most effective way to prevent pneumonia. There are safe, effective vaccines against the common bacterial causes of pneumonia, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and Pneumococcus. The routine use of these vaccines has had great success in preventing deaths in many countries. It is a tragedy that access to these life-saving vaccines remains an outcome determined by where a child is born, not whether a child needs it.

And the same is true for treatment: some 600,000 children's lives could be saved each year if all youngsters with pneumonia were properly diagnosed and treated with antibiotics costing less than US$ 1 per course. More than double - an estimated 1 .3 million lives - could be saved each year if both prevention and treatment interventions were implemented universally. …

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