Pneumonia to kill nearly 11 million children by 2030, study says


Pneumonia will kill nearly 11 million children under the age of five by 2030, experts warned Monday in a world day aimed at raising awareness of the world's biggest infectious killer.

While in the developed world severe lung infection mainly affects the elderly, in developing countries are children who bear weight, with hundreds of thousands dying each year of the disease easily preventable.

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

A new analysis conducted by Johns Hopkins University and the Save the Children group using predictions based on current trends showed that more than 10,800,000 children under the age of five would succumb to the disease by the end of the next decade.

In addition, a handful of countries will face the heaviest burden, with 1.7 million children sentenced to death in Nigeria and India, 700,000 in Pakistan and 635,000 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

However, there is good news.

The study, published on World Pneumonia Day, found that extending existing vaccination coverage along with cheap antibiotics and ensuring good nutrition for children could save a total of 4.1 million lives.

Pneumonia, an inflammatory infection of the lungs that can be contracted by viral or bacterial infection, is treatable if diagnosed early and the patient's immune system is not compromised.

But all over the world it affects young children who are often weak due to malnutrition, killing more babies each year than malaria, diarrhea and measles combined.

"It is unbelievable the belief that close to one million children are dying every year from an illness that we have the knowledge and resources to defeat," said Kevin Watkins, CEO of Save the Children.

"There are no pink ribbons, global domes or pneumonia marches. But whoever cares about justice for children and their access to essential health care, this forgotten killer must be the determining cause of our era."

The Watkins group, which operates health programs in some of the countries most affected by the disease, called for prices of the major existing pneumonia vaccines to be reduced "dramatically."

2030 is the target date for the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, which includes a pledge to "end child deaths preventable" by the end of the next decade.



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