Nigerian children died from pneumonia in 2018

Grant Boone
November 13, 2019

Pneumonia is the field's deadliest little one killer, with a "forgotten epidemic" claiming one younger lifestyles every 39 seconds, global health and teenagers's agencies warned Tuesday.

Today is World Pneumonia Day (November 12), which raises awareness about the world's leading infectious killer of children under the age of five.

Globally, Pneumonia accounts for more than 920,000 deaths among children under five years of age.

"Every day, almost 2,200 children under the age of five die from pneumonia, a curable and mostly preventable disease", Henrietta Fore, executive director of Unicef, said in a joint statement.

"However, these findings show that for thousands of children outside of the United Kingdom, pneumonia is not an illness of the past but a killer in the present that will continue to prematurely take children's lives if we don't act now".

Most of the children's deaths took place under the age of two, while about 153,000 of the children died during their first month, it said.

A new report by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) shows Nigeria recorded the highest global deaths from pneumonia at 162 000 past year.

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The charities are urging the future British government to increase the proportion of its overseas aid spent on healthcare and step up the fight against malnutrition as the most significant driver of childhood pneumonia. Vaccines hold promise of saving millions of children from dying of pneumonia.

Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive of Save the Children, said: "This is a forgotten global epidemic that demands an urgent worldwide response".

Acting UNICEF representative in Nigeria, Pernille Ironside, said the biggest risk factors for child pneumonia deaths in Nigeria were malnutrition, indoor air pollution from the use of solid fuels and outdoor air pollution.

In his remark, Kevin Watkins, CEO of Save the Children UK, explained that three in four children suffering from pneumonia symptoms in Nigeria do not get access to medical treatment.

'Although vaccines and other preventative efforts are decreasing the burden of the disease, much more work is still required.

Children with severe cases of the disease may also require oxygen treatment, which is rarely available in the poorest countries to the children who need it.

Inversely, richer countries, global donors and private sector companies to boost immunisation coverage by reducing the cost of key vaccines and ensuring the successful replenishment of Gavi, the vaccine alliance; and to increase funding for research and innovation to tackle pneumonia. We have made strong progress over the last decade, with millions of children in the world's poorest countries now receiving the lifesaving pneumococcal vaccine.

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