PARIS: Pneumonia will kill nearly 11 million children under the age of five by 2030, experts warned on Monday on a global day aimed at raising awareness of the biggest infectious killer of infants worldwide.
While in the developed world the severe lung infection mainly affects the elderly, in developing nations it is children who bear the brunt, with hundreds of thousands dying each year from the easily preventable disease.
More than 880,000 children — mainly aged less than two years old — died from pneumonia in 2016 alone.
A new analysis conducted by Johns Hopkins University and the aid group Save the Children using forecasts based on current trends showed more than 10,800,000 under-fives would succumb to the disease by the end of the next decade.
Furthermore, a handful of countries are set to carry the highest burdens, with 1.7 million children set to die in Nigeria and India, 700,000 in Pakistan and 635,000 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Yet there is some good news.
The study, published on World Pneumonia Day, found that scaling up existing vaccination coverage, coupled 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 may be contracted via viral or bacterial infection, is treatable if caught early enough and the patient’s immune system isn’t compromised.
But worldwide it hits young children who are often weak through malnutrition, killing more infants each year than malaria, diarrhoea and measles combined.
Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2018