Pneumonia to Kill Nearly 11 Million Children by 2030

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (November 12, 2018) — Pneumonia is on course to kill nearly 11 million children by 2030, new analysis conducted by Johns Hopkins University and Save the Children reveals today.

The in-depth modelling, released on World Pneumonia Day, also shows that more than 4 million of these deaths – more than a third – could be easily averted with concerted action to improve rates of vaccination, treatment and nutrition.

Save the Children’s forecasts show that without action, Nigeria, India, Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are likely to bear the highest burden of deaths.

In the U.S., pneumonia mostly affects the elderly, but globally the disease is the biggest infectious killer for children, killing more than malaria, diarrhea and measles combined.

More than 880,000 children, mostly under the age of two, died from the disease in 2016, the most recent year for which full data is available.

“It’s hard to believe that nearly 1 million children are dying every year from a disease that we have the tools to prevent and treat,” said Carolyn Miles, Save the Children’s President and CEO. “There’s a vaccine that protects against pneumonia, and a course of antibiotics to treat it costs only 50 cents.”

“Child deaths from pneumonia are a consequence of gross inequality,” Miles continued. “The world’s poorest children are most exposed to pneumonia risks, as well as the ones least likely to get healthcare that could save their lives.”

The organization’s forecasts are based on a model developed by researchers at Johns Hopkins University called the Lives Saved Tool (LiST). It shows nearly 11 million (10,865,728) children will die by 2030 on current trends, with the highest burden of deaths in Nigeria (1,730,000), India (1,710,000), Pakistan (706,000), the Democratic Republic of Congo (635,000), and Ethiopia (407,000).

However, scaling up vaccination coverage to 90 percent of children under the age of five could save 610,000 lives; providing cheap antibiotics could save 1.9 million; and ensuring children have good nutrition could save 2.5 million.

If all three overlapping interventions were carried out by 2030, the model suggests a total of 4.1 million deaths could be averted.

2030 is the target date for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include an ambitious global pledge to “end preventable child deaths” and achieve Universal Health Coverage.

To end preventable child deaths from diseases like pneumonia, Save the Children wants to see: 

  • The prices of major pneumonia vaccines dramatically lowered to help allow more than 76 million infants to be immunized
  • Governments of low-and middle-income countries prioritize building strong health systems that enable quality health services to reach the most marginalized
  • Governments and donors such as the U.S. continue committing to ending preventable deaths by increasing resources for health, especially maternal, newborn and child health.

Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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