Tuesday , January 19 2021

Pneumonia to kill about 11 million children by 2030, study warnings

Doctors treat a child in Ivory Coast, where pneumonia is the second only for malaria as a nursing killer. (AFP Pic)

Pneumonia will kill about 11 million children younger than five years old by 2030, experts on Monday said on a global day to sensitize the biggest infectious killer of children around the world.

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

More than 880,000 children, mainly under the age of two, died of pneumonia only in 2016.

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

In addition, a handful of countries are willing to carry the biggest loads, with 1.7 million children killed in Nigeria and India, 700,000 in Pakistan and 635,000 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

There's still good news.

The study, published on World Pneumonia Day, found that increasing the 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 through viral or bacterial infection, may be treated if taken initially and the patient's immune system is not compromised.

But there are small children who are often vulnerable to malnutrition, which kill more children every year than combined with malaria, diarrhea and measles.

"It crushes the belief that nearly one million children are dying every year from a disease that we have the knowledge and resources to defeat," said the general director of Save the Children, Kevin Watkins.

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

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

2030 is the target date for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which includes the promise of "ending the preventable deaths" at the end of the next decade.

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