Pneumonia will kill nearly 11 million children under the age of five by 2030 if current trends continue, experts warned Monday for World Infection Day.
Of this total of 10.8 million deaths, 1.7 million could occur in only two countries, Nigeria and India, according to projections by the American university Johns Hopkins and the NGO Save the Children.
700,000 children could die from this disease in Pakistan and 635,000 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, they add.
Pneumonia is an acute respiratory infection affecting the lungs. According to WHO (World Health Organization), it is the leading infectious cause of child mortality and “causes 15% of the total number of deaths of children under 5”.
The WHO estimates that 922,000 children under 5 died of pneumonia in 2015 worldwide.
Pneumonia can be caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi.
“Prevention is possible through immunization, a satisfactory nutritional status and improved environmental factors,” says WHO.
According to the study published on Monday, 4.1 million children could be saved by implementing a package of measures: increase global immunization coverage, ensure access to antibiotics and improve the nutrition of children at risk.
“It’s unthinkable that nearly one million children die every year from an illness that we have the ability to overcome,” said Save the Children’s chief executive, Kevin Watkins.
“There is no world summit or march against pneumonia. Yet anyone who cares about children’s health should consider this neglected killer a priority, “he said, calling for a drastic drop in vaccine prices.