700,000 children could die from pneumonia in Pakistan and 635,000 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a study carried out by the John Hopkins University in the US and the NGO Save the Children. Of the total 10.8 million deaths caused by pneumonia, according to these recent estimations, 1.7 million could indeed occur in the before-mentioned countries.
About 1 million children under the age of 5 die due to pneumonia
Pneumonia is an acute respiratory infection affecting the lungs. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is the leading infectious cause of child mortality as it is responsible for about 15% of the total number of deaths of children under five years of age.
WHO estimates that 922,000 children under the age of 5 died of pneumonia in 2015, around the world, since viruses, bacteria or fungi can cause pneumonia, and children are exposed more to such infections than adult populations.
“Prevention is possible through vaccination, adequate nutritional status, and improved environmental factors,” according to the World Health Organization.
Better measures against pneumonia, including vaccination campaigns, might keep the disease at bay
According to the study released yesterday, approximately 4.1 million children could be saved by implementing a range of measures which include increasing global immunization coverage, ensuring access to antibiotics, and improving the nutrition of children at risk.
“It is unthinkable that nearly a million children die each year from a disease that we have the capacity to overcome,” said Kevin Watkins, director at the NGO Save the Children.
“There is no world summit or march against pneumonia. Anyone concerned about children’s health should consider this neglected killer as a priority cause,” he argued, calling for a drastic reduction in the price of pneumonia vaccines.
Indeed, the situation is bleak, worldwide, and better vaccination campaigns, especially in the high-risk countries, might tackle the prevalence of pneumonia, which can be deadly for children.