09 Feb Assessing progress one year after the Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia
One year after the inaugural Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia, what progress has been made?
From 29 to 31 January 2020, governments, United Nations (UN) and multilateral health and development agencies, companies, philanthropic foundations, NGOs, and academic institutions met in Barcelona, Spain to strategize more effective ways to reduce child deaths from pneumonia at the Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia.
A Declaration was endorsed committing signees to six actions to reduce child pneumonia deaths, including:
1. Develop and implement Pneumonia Control Strategies
2. Prioritize vulnerable populations
3. Finance pneumonia control and treatment adequately
4. Accelerate breakthrough innovations
5. Track progress with transparency, accountability and inclusiveness
6. Strengthen partnerships
One year after the Global Forum, and in the context of a pandemic that has required every country to rapidly mobilize to prevent, diagnose, and treat the respiratory virus SARS-CoV-2, the Every Breath Counts Coalition assessed the progress of seven members of the Steering Committee that co-hosted the Global Forum, including:
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
“la Caixa Foundation”
Save the Children
World Health Organization (WHO)
Organizational performance was assessed against 18 indicators, three for each of the six Declaration commitments and a color code assigned indicating whether the organization has made strong progress (green), some progress (yellow), or scant progress (red) on each commitment. The report also highlights best practice initiatives in the year since the Forum.
Only publicly available information from organizational websites, reports, blogs, and social media published after January 2020 was used to assess performance in the interests of advancing public accountability to the Global Forum Declaration.
What were the results?
Despite the enormous challenges of accelerating reductions in child pneumonia deaths during a respiratory infection pandemic, every organization demonstrated real progress on all six of the Declaration commitments.
Since the Global Forum, most organizations have increased their focus on the children most vulnerable to pneumonia death (#2), at the same time accelerating innovations with the potential to reduce child pneumonia deaths (#4) and expanding their partnerships for greater impact (#6).
But greater efforts are needed to advocate for the achievement of the GAPPD pneumonia mortality target (less than three child pneumonia deaths for every 1,000 children born) as critical for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (#1). And increased investments in pneumonia control are also urgently needed, primarily as part of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), with support from international agencies as needed. Without this, the burden of paying for pneumonia care will continue to fall on vulnerable families, plunging many further into poverty (#3).
Finally, all organizations could do more to track progress to GAPPD in the countries they support, to publish evaluations of the impact of their own pneumonia programs on the GAPPD target, and to ensure that robust indicators are adopted for pulse oximetry, medical oxygen and recommended antibiotics, alongside existing vaccine, nutrition and air pollution indicators (#5).
The progress report also celebrates the many breakthroughs that organizations have achieved in a very difficult year – outlined in the “2020 Highlights” section.
The Every Breath Counts Coalition applauds the seven Global Forum Steering Committee members for participating in the progress report and for demonstrating their commitment to public accountability.
We hope that other Declaration signees, including governments, undertake similar assessments to inspire the spread of best practices and to spur further action in the areas where progress lags.
Author: Leith Greenslade, Coordinator, Every Breath Counts Coalition