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 do “double-duty” during the pandemic – and save lives 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.

National governments must also ensure that COVID-19 technologies are redeployed and integrated into the health system once the pandemic subsides.

Credit: Newborn Foundation


Fighting for Breath – A Call to Action to Stop Children Dying of Pneumonia
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Fighting for Breath (French version) Download report

Fighting for Breath (Spanish version) Download report

Media release on World Pneumonia Day: New report shows pneumonia killed 800,000 children worldwide last year, more than any other disease
Download media release

2019 Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report Card
Find out more

Country briefings
More detailed information about the top high-burden countries. Click on a country name to download the briefing.

Democratic Republic of Congo
Democratic Republic of Congo (French version)
South Sudan

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.

Latest posts
  • On 25 September 2020, the Access to Medicine Foundation and the Every Breath Counts Coalition co-hosted a first-of-its-kind virtual roundtable with industry, investors, global health agencies to explore opportunities to increase access to medical oxygen in low and middle-income countries.

  • How can countries solve complex vaccine decision-making? Vaccine Cost Calculators from PATH, available for rotavirus and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines, help countries compare immunization program costs using different vaccine products to simplify decision-making.

  • Every Breath Counts underscores the critical role of access to medical oxygen in reducing deaths from COVID-19 across LMICs and appeals to the ACT-A Facilitation Council to guarantee significant, additional financial support is provided to help LMIC governments ensure that no COVID-19 patient dies for lack of medical oxygen.

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