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 – with almost every country around the world experiencing confirmed cases.

Credit: Oxygen4Life

Vulnerable populations under serious threat

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a catastrophic impact on vulnerable populations, especially children, in the “double-burden” countries that are already experiencing heavy burdens of pneumonia, as weak health systems struggle to respond.

COVID-19 has added more than 4 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 – including access to medical oxygen – 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 mask wearing and distancing.

Every Breath Counts welcomes the announcements from the World Bank, Global Fund, Gavi 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.

Investing in medical oxygen will not only help countries reduce COVID-19 deaths but will continue to save lives beyond the pandemic, including for newborns and children with pneumonia.

We have the 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.

Double-Burden Pneumonia Countiries

The critical questions

Q: How to protect maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and nutrition services in low- and middle-income countries during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Read answer from John Borrazzo, Senior Health Specialist at the Global Financing Facility

Q: How can international actors best support local manufacturing of WHO-recommended COVID-19 technologies, where appropriate and feasible?

Read answer from Dr Paulin Banguti, University of Rwanda, King Faisal Hospital & Rwanda Society of Anesthesiologists

Read more Questions & Answers >

PARTNERS IN ACTION

Video highlights showing how coalition partners are responding to the pandemic – here

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