Childhood pneumonia is arguably the world’s single most neglected disease. Every year, the illness claims the lives of more than 800,000 children under five, making it the single biggest killer of children. (This includes more than 153,000 newborns (or nearly 3% of global under-5 child mortality) who are particularly vulnerable to infection). That shocking figure – a life lost every 39 seconds – is falling more slowly than for other major killers, and too slowly for the world to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of an end to preventable childhood deaths. Despite the death toll and the slow pace of progress, pneumonia has received insufficient attention from the international community and – sadly – from the governments of countries in which pneumonia is a major cause of childhood mortality
In 2017, in the lead-up to its 100th anniversary, Save the Children launched its centenary commitment on fighting childhood pneumonia. This report captures the achievements and learnings from their work to address childhood pneumonia, the biggest infectious killer of children, over the past four years. It addresses the opportunities and challenges for pneumonia that have resulted from COVID-19, shining a spotlight on associated issues relating to vaccination and oxygen access. Save the Children commissioned research carried out by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine to identify seven interventions to reduce pneumonia mortality with proven high-impact, and with the potential to significantly reduce deaths (see Table 1). Taken together, on a cumulative basis to 2030, these interventions could prevent 3.2 million pneumonia deaths and an additional 5.8 million lives could be saved from co-benefits in areas including nutrition, newborn interventions, and antibiotic treatments.