Tuesday , March 2 2021

Pneumonia kill nearly 11 million children by 2030, warns the study

Doctors are treating a child in the Ivory Coast, where pneumonia is the second only malaria as a killer of babies. (AFP Pic)

Pneumonia will kill nearly 11 million children under the age of 5 by 2030, experts warned on Monday in a world day to raise awareness of the world's largest polluter killer.

While in the developed world, severe lung infection mainly affects the elderly, in developing countries it is children who bear the tendency, and hundreds of thousands of dying die every year from preventable disease.

More than 880,000 children – mostly less than two years old – died of pneumonia in 2016 alone.

A new analysis conducted by the University of Johns Hopkins and a group helping save children through projections based on current trends showed more than 10,800,000 under five years of age had succumbed to disease by the end of the next decade.

Moreover, a handful of countries are defined to bear the highest burden, with 1.7 million children dying in Nigeria and India, 700,000 in Pakistan and 635,000 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

But there is some good news.

The study, published on World Pneumonia Day, found that expanding existing vaccine coverage, combined with cheap antibiotics and ensuring proper nutrition for children, could save a total of 4.1 million lives.

Pneumonia, lung pneumonia that can be contracted through a viral or bacterial infection, can be treated if caught early enough and the patient's immune system is not in danger.

But all over the world it harms young children who are often undernourished and kill more babies a year than malaria, diarrhea and measles.

"It's a belief that nearly one million children are dying every year from an illness that we have the knowledge and the resources to win," said Save the Children CEO Kevin Watkins.

"There are no pink ribbons, world peaks or marches for pneumonia, but anyone who cares about children's justice and their access to essential health services should be the defining factor of our age."

The Watkins group, which runs health programs in some of the countries most severely affected by the disease, called for lowering the prices of existing "dramatic" pneumonia vaccines.

2030 is the target date for the UN's sustainable development goals, including a commitment to "end the death of child drivers" by the end of the next decade.

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