World Pneumonia Day: A call for an end to preventable pneumonia deaths

In support of World Pneumonia Day, 12 November, the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), of which The Union is a member, calls for an end to preventable pneumonia deaths, ensuring equitable access to interventions for prevention and control of pneumonia.

Every minute, two children die from pneumonia, representing 16 percent of childhood deaths globally.  Eighty percent of deaths are in children under two years old. Almost all deaths are in low and middle-income (LMIC) countries. Pneumonia is also a common cause of death or illness in the elderly, being the single most common cause of death from infectious disease.

Pneumonia is largely preventable with good nutrition and comprehensive immunisation including vaccines against the common germs that cause pneumonia such as pneumococcus, measles, Haemophilus Influenzae b, pertussis (whooping cough), diphtheria and influenza. In addition, pneumonia is largely treatable through timely access to appropriate management including antibiotics, referral to hospital and oxygen when needed.

In order to end the preventable burden of childhood pneumonia and deaths we need to raise awareness about pneumonia, strengthen, accelerate and sustain interventions to prevent and treat pneumonia and design specific strategies to reach the “harder-to reach” populations to improve their accessibility to available interventions.

A recent session at the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Hyderabad, India, highlighted the urgent need for equal access to healthcare for children with asthma and pneumonia.

The session titled ‘A breathless child: calling time on deaths from asthma and pneumonia’ explored current information on the diagnosis, treatment and challenges associated with asthma and pneumonia, with a specific focus on LMIC settings.

Watch a recording of the session.