COVID-19 spreads to countries with high child pneumonia deaths

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 – more than 80% of low- and middle-income countries now have confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organization.

Credit: Oxygen4Life

Vulnerable populations under serious threat

The COVID-19 pandemic could have a catastrophic impact for vulnerable populations, especially among children, in countries that are already experiencing heavy burdens of pneumonia, as ill-equipped health systems struggle to respond.

The Every Breath Counts Coalition urges global and national health leaders – including the 12 agencies who signed the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All – to coordinate efforts to support countries to protect their vulnerable populations from COVID-19.

Ensuring fast, accurate and affordable diagnosis and treatment will be 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 social distancing.

Every Breath Counts believes pneumonia control is critical to reducing pneumonia deaths, to the national achievement of child survival goals, and to protect vulnerable populations from pneumonia epidemics caused by novel pathogens like COVID-19.

We welcome the announcements from the World Bank, Global Fund and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, of new financing initiatives and guidelines. We will continue to urge global and national health leaders to respond to COVID-19 in a manner that strengthens the health systems’ ability to prevent, diagnose and treat pneumonia.

This is our chance to reverse decades of under-investment in pneumonia control and protect vulnerable populations from future epidemics.

Frequently asked questions

FAQs relating to COVID-19 preparedness in low- and middle-income countries are currently being developed


EBC COVID-19 commodities partner mapping and supplier lists – with focus on pulse oximetry and oxygen-related technologies: here
WHO situation report updated daily: here
WHO Technical Guidance documents updated regularly: here
WHO disease commodity package updated regularly: here
WHO Technical Specifications for Oxygen Concentrators (2015) here
WHO Oxygen Therapy Manual for Children (2016) here
WHO-UNICEF technical specifications and guidance for oxygen therapy devices (2019) here

Masimo Rad-G pulse oximeter download; other tools here

World Bank $14 billion package here
Global Fund reprogramming of savings under existing grants: here
Global Fund Supports 11 Countries in Response to COVID-19: here
World Bank/IMF –  debt relief for low income countries: here
Gavi announced eligible countries can use less than 10% of HSS grants for COVID-19 here
Unitaid $US30M to expand access to quality testing and pulse oximetry: here
UN launches$US2B Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19: here
WHO launches COVID Solidarity Response Fund here
BMGF announces partnership with pharma to fight COVID-19 here
UNICEF SPRINT initiative – funding oxygen system procurement in Ghana and Senegal here


Latest posts
  • The Every Breath Counts Coalition is extremely concerned that the COVID-19 virus will cross into the countries that are already experiencing heavy burdens of pneumonia deaths, especially among children, and is urging support for national preparedness to control an outbreak of viral pneumonia in these countries.

  • Read how the Every Breath Counts Coalition supported the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health to develop a Pneumonia Control Strategy between January 2019 and 2020. Coalition members including USAID, the Nigerian offices of Dalberg, Save the Children, UNICEF and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) joined forces to support the process.

  • For three days in late January 2020, 400 individuals from 60 countries gathered in Barcelona to work out better ways to fight the leading infectious threat to child survival - pneumonia. Leith Greenslade, coordinator of the Every Breath Counts Coalition, a 40-member public-private partnership, reflects on what was achieved and what it means for children.

We all have a role to play in ending preventable child pneumonia deaths by 2030