That’s one person dying every 13 seconds.
Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi, and leaves children and adults gasping for breath as their lungs fill with pus and fluid.
It is the very young and the very old who are at greatest risk. Two-thirds of pneumonia deaths are concentrated in a diverse group of 20 low-, middle- and high-income countries representing most regions of the world.
COVID-19 will add 3.6 million to the death toll in 2021, bringing the total number of respiratory infection deaths to more than 6 million. No other infection causes this burden of death.
Yet, pneumonia remains a neglected disease – a “global cause without champions”. Despite recent gains in reducing child pneumonia mortality, progress in reducing all-age pneumonia deaths has not kept pace with other leading infectious diseases in most countries. Furthermore, the levels of support allocated to pneumonia pale in comparison to other leading infectious killers and relative to pneumonia’s heavy disease burden.
Continued lack of action on pneumonia will prevent many countries from achieving the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD) target of less than three child pneumonia deaths per 1,000 live births by 2025 and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of less than 25 child death per 1,000 live births by 2030.
Pneumonia is preventable and treatable. A world in which pneumonia deaths are rare in every country is achievable. But we need to do things differently.