Against the backdrop of the emerging coronavirus, 350 representatives from more than 55 countries met in Barcelona in January at the first Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia to discuss strategies to control pneumonia, the leading infectious killer of children. Since the Forum, COVID-19 has spread rapidly – with almost every country around the world now experiencing confirmed cases.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a catastrophic impact on vulnerable populations, especially children, in countries that are already experiencing heavy burdens of pneumonia, as weak health systems struggle to respond.
COVID-19 could add 1.9 million to the death toll. This could increase ‘all-cause’ pneumonia deaths by more than 75%. While disruptions to healthcare services are estimated to cause up to an additional 2.3 million child deaths– 35% from pneumonia and newborn sepsis.
Ensuring fast, accurate and affordable diagnosis and treatment is critical in most countries. Urgent action is also required to increase awareness of pneumonia and improve careseeking behaviour, and to adopt preventive measures such as handwashing and distancing.
Every Breath Counts welcomes the announcements from the World Bank, Global Fund, Gavi, United Nations and others of new financing mechanisms and guidelines.
The coalition continues to urge governments and global health actors – including the 12 agencies who signed the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All – to ensure that the massive effort to control the pandemic protects vulnerable populations, and contributes to reducing ‘all-cause’ respiratory deaths among children and adults for the long term.
This is a chance to reduce vulnerability to another respiratory pandemic and to make rapid progress towards achieving the SDGs for health that leaders promised to achieve by 2030.
Q: How to protect maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and nutrition services in low- and middle-income countries during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Q: How do we prioritize invasive versus less-invasive respiratory therapies in low-resource settings?
Q: How can international actors best support local manufacturing of WHO-recommended COVID-19 technologies, where appropriate and feasible?
Pneumonia is the single biggest killer of Somali children. Unless drastic measures are taken now Somalia's children will remain dangerously exposed to pneumonia.
Children and adults living in countries that do not offer pneumonia-fighting vaccines are dangerously exposed to pneumonia and at risk of infecting others.
Read about the successes and challenges of low- and middle-income health ministers one year after they met at the first-ever Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia in Barcelona.