Pneumonia remains the leading infectious cause of child mortality, which we know how to prevent and treat. Crisis and conflict are increasing severe acute malnutrition – also known as wasting – which is a major risk factor for child death. The conditions are set for a dramatic increase in the number of children dying from pneumonia – already the leading infectious killer of children – unless specific actions are taken.

COVID-19 has fueled the largest continued backsliding in childhood vaccination in almost three decades. More than 25 million children are missing out on essential vaccines and 54 countries are significantly off track to reduce child deaths to the levels required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). During the pandemic, first-dose measles coverage dropped to 81%, the lowest level since 2008, and third-dose pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) coverage is just 51%, with 46 countries experiencing declines in coverage.

9-month-old Bashir recovers from pneumonia, malaria and malnutrition in Jigawa State, Nigeria. Credit: Save the Children/GSK-funded INSPIRING programme

In 2020, a diverse set of governments and partners committed to “unprecedented levels of collaboration in order to reduce childhood pneumonia deaths” in the Declaration signed at the inaugural Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia in Barcelona. Three years on, progress has been made in many countries, but more than 600,000 children are still dying from pneumonia each year. We need to pivot political attention to reaching the children who are most at risk of death with a comprehensive call to action.

Throughout the pandemic, the world has seen unparalleled innovation, investments, and collaboration in global health. And there are new tools becoming available to protect children from the leading threats to their survival. Now is the time to leverage these efforts to build sustainable and responsive health systems that can deliver vaccines and other essential health services to reduce child pneumonia deaths and accelerate progress to the SDG child survival goal.


A 2nd Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia will build on the momentum for action generated by the first Global Forum, and the political attention COVID-19 has focused on respiratory health, to accelerate the specific government actions needed to reduce child pneumonia deaths. These include full coverage of the pneumonia-fighting vaccines (e.g., PCV, pertussis, Hib, and measles), reductions in wasting, improvements in air quality, as well as rapid access to diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics and oxygen, especially as part of strong primary health care.

The two-day event will serve as a platform for new and ambitious political commitments to accelerate introduction and scale up of these lifesaving interventions.

Senior representatives from the Spanish Government, leading health ministry officials from a subset of countries with high burdens of child pneumonia, donor governments, foundations, NGOs, companies and academic institutions will come together in-person to rejuvenate the fight to reduce child pneumonia deaths and boost national child survival progress.

Leading experts will showcase the latest evidence on best practices and high-impact programmes and solutions with the power to dramatically reduce child pneumonia deaths, especially through integrated services that reach the most vulnerable children (e.g., zero dose children). The 2nd Global Forum will also explore opportunities to leverage the political momentum and pandemic support that high-burden countries have received to strengthen child health services.

The event will take place during World Immunization Week and after UNICEF launches the State of the World’s Children Report, which will focus on fully protecting every child with life-saving vaccines. It will be a key moment to reverse backsliding on childhood immunization, accelerate the introduction and scale up of existing life-saving vaccines (e.g., PCV), and plan for the introduction of promising new vaccines, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Building on the successful partnership between ”la Caixa” Foundation and Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, the 2nd Global Forum will also be a good opportunity to mobilize the private sector in Spain to support immunization and increase the number of companies collaborating with the Child Vaccination Business Alliance. Since 2008, this initiative has contributed more than 42.6 million euros to vaccinate nearly nine million children around the world.

Specific commitments

The event will offer a platform for governments and other stakeholders to make commitments, especially:

  • Introduction and full coverage of existing pneumonia-fighting vaccines for children (e.g, PCV, measles, pertussis, Hib), especially in the context of reaching zero dose children.
  • Acceleration of national efforts for catch-up vaccination to address backsliding on routine immunization, particularly in countries with high numbers of zero dose children.
  • Support to reduce the number of children who are wasted, at risk of wasting and other forms of childhood malnutrition.
  • Initiatives that integrate the delivery of vaccination services with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of childhood malnutrition, especially wasting.
  • Greater focus on reducing the other risk factors for child pneumonia deaths – air pollution, low birth weight, preterm birth, and no access to hand washing.
  • Increased investments in models of primary health care that will prevent childhood pneumonia deaths (e.g., greater care seeking and rapid access to diagnosis and treatment).
  • Redeployment of COVID-19 supplies to improve child pneumonia diagnosis and treatment (e.g., pulse oximetry and oxygen).
  • Improved surveillance of pneumonia and data collection on child pneumonia prevalence, incidence, and mortality, including at sub-national levels.
  • Strengthened training of healthcare workers to diagnose and treat children with pneumonia, especially at the community level.
  • Increases in government child health and donor aid budgets to strengthen immunization and primary health care, especially to benefit children from the poorest and most fragile communities.
  • Greater partnership across stakeholders, especially the public and private sector, to increase coverage of the most life-saving tools.

As governments and international donors face many competing priorities, there are deep concerns that child health budgets are inadequate to the task of achieving the child survival SDG by 2030. Pneumonia is a major cause of child death we know how to prevent and treat, and the 2nd Global Forum aims to generate the political will needed to prioritize the specific actions with the power to avert a catastrophic setback for the health of the world’s children.

Supporting partners
Supporting partners


The First Global Forum

Find out about the inaugaral Global Forum: here
A snapshot through photos: here
Reflections of the First Global Forum: interview


MATERIALS – to come

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