Championing the fight against pneumonia

Pneumonia is the single biggest infectious killer of adults and children –  claiming the lives of 2.5 million, including 672,000 children, in 2019. 

This year World Pneumonia Day – on 12 November 2020 – will be held during a global pandemic that is dramatically increasing pneumonia deaths from COVID-19 and other causes.

COVID-19 could add 1.9 million to the death toll this year. This could increase ‘all-cause’ pneumonia deaths by more than 75%. No other infection causes this burden of death.

Disruptions to healthcare services are estimated to cause up to an additional 2.3 million child deaths – 35% from pneumonia and newborn sepsis.

Many countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America, struggling with heavy burdens of COVID-19 and child pneumonia deaths, will need effective strategies to fight both. Investments in infection prevention (masks, social distancing, hand washing etc), and improved diagnosis and treatment (with pulse oximetry and oxygen) can save lives during the pandemic – and beyond.

This World Pneumonia Day, we are calling on governments and other stakeholders to ensure that the massive effort to control the pandemic contributes to reducing ‘all-cause’ respiratory infections and deaths among both children and adults for the long term.

Credit: Newborn Foundation

COVID-19 Oxygen Needs Tracker

Oxygen access has been a long-neglected element of health system planning, despite being an essential treatment for a range of diseases. The COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted the role of medical oxygen as a life-saving therapy for patients struggling to breathe. In LMICs, many health facilities are unequipped to meet the rising demand.

Almost half of all hospitals in these areas have an inconsistent supply of medical oxygen, or lack it entirely. More than ever, timely and robust planning for reliable oxygen delivery is needed to protect and save lives.

World Pneumonia Day – let’s increase access to medical oxygen

“Oxygen has always been an essential medicine. COVID-19 is teaching the world just how essential.”

“This World Pneumonia Day, let’s all agree to work more effectively to increase access to medical oxygen.”

Gargee Ghosh, President, Global Policy and Advocacy, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


Photo credit: Save the Children

World Pneumonia Day – a decade on

In 2009, a diverse group of committed doctors, advocates, academics, UN officials and business people came together to change the way the world responded to pneumonia, the “forgotten killer of children”. When they launched the first World Pneumonia Day in November, pneumonia was killing 1.2 million children each year.

Read our blog post, written by Leith Greenslade from the Every Breath Counts Coalition, to find out what’s changed in the decade since then – the progress that has been made, and the still-daunting challenge ahead.

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