World Pneumonia Day: Combating Childhood Pneumonia with Best Practices and Innovation

World Pneumonia Day: Combating Childhood Pneumonia with Best Practices and Innovation

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman.}Photo credit: Warren Zelman.

Today, November 12, is World Pneumonia Day. Pneumonia is the leading cause of death among children under five, killing more children annually than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. About 1.1 million children under five died of pneumonia last year, 99 percent in developing countries.

No child should die from pneumonia. Usually caused by bacteria or virus, pneumonia most often manifests in children as a cough and difficulty breathing. The global child health community has proven strategies to prevent and treat pneumonia including vaccines, immediate exclusive breastfeeding, handwashing with soap, access to sanitation, oral rehydration solution with zinc, safe water, amoxicillin, and vitamin A.

We know how to prevent childhood pneumonia deaths; sometimes the biggest challenge is getting the proven solutions to the kids who need them.

MSH is committed to reversing these staggering statistics by preventing and treating pneumonia among the hardest to reach communities.

For example, in our new USAID-funded Primary Health Care (PHC) project in Madagascar we collaborate with local non-governmental organizations and community health workers to provide live-saving health services to the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people, including children at risk of pneumonia. In Democratic Republic of the Congo, through our USAID-funded Integrated Health Project we team with community health workers to provide integrated community case management for three leading killers of children, including pneumonia.

The Systems for Improving Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program assists countries to ensure that amoxicillin dispersible tablets, the WHO medicine of choice for childhood pneumonia, is appropriately procured and distributed and that community health workers use it correctly to treat children under 5 with pneumonia. And MSH endorsed the Integrated Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD) and recently re-committed to ending preventable childhood deaths by re-endorsing the Declaration on Scaling Up Treatment of Diarrhea and Pneumonia.

This year’s World Pneumonia Day theme is "Innovate to End Child Pneumonia". In addition to our current portfolio of projects that prevent, diagnose and treat pneumonia, we also recognize the potential of innovations to reverse these staggering child pneumonia statistics. MSH supports the Expanded Programme on Immunization and the introduction of new vaccines, including two new pneumonia vaccines. We are constantly working to innovate and improve on diagnosis of pneumonia and to deliver evidence-based best practices in challenging settings in the developing world.

Join us in combating childhood pneumonia. We owe it to our children to end these preventable deaths.

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