UK leadership can help end preventable deaths by the world’s biggest killer of children - pneumonia

Posted On: 
10th November 2017

On this World Pneumonia Day a countdown begins, says Save the Children. 

Breathe in. Breathe out. Slowly at first, then faster. And faster and faster and faster until you have no more energy left to breathe. This is what pneumonia does to a child.

Most people in the UK know about malaria, measles and HIV. Less are likely to understand pneumonia, despite the fact it kills more children than these three diseases combined. This World Pneumonia Day, like every other day of the year, two young lives will be lost every minute to the illness– and many more are put at risk.

Yet what is most staggering about this disease is not its ability to harm, but our capacity to stop it. Pneumonia is preventable and it is treatable.

Earlier this month, Save the Children published a major report, Fighting for Breath, which marks the launch of our new global campaign to fight pneumonia and save millions of lives through better primary healthcare, access to cheaper vaccines, scaling up nutrition, and through simple antibiotics that cost less than 30p.

Working alongside UNICEF, the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and GSK – we are building a movement to end preventable child deaths from pneumonia.

And this is where we need the leadership of the UK Government. We need British ingenuity, business clout and global convening power to come together and set an initiative that has the power to save a million lives.

Pneumonia is a disease of poverty; the most disadvantaged children face the gravest risks, yet they are the least likely to get treated because of gross inequalities in health system coverage.

With UK leadership, we can work with national governments around the world to ensure essential healthcare is accessible to all children, regardless of background or circumstance. We can shine a spotlight on this disease and increase awareness with both the public and international donors. We can work with drug companies, and with Gavi, the vaccine alliance, to drive down the price and increase the affordability of vaccines. And finally, we can scale up nutrition while encouraging immediate and exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life.

This World Pneumonia Day marks the beginning of a countdown. To achieve the vision laid out by the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, we have just thirteen World Pneumonia Days left to end preventable deaths from the world’s biggest killer of children. This is no small task, but with a concerted global effort and UK leadership, we know it is possible.