Learn about Pneumonia: Facts, Figures and What You Can Do

Pneumonia is the leading infectious killer of children under five years old.

  • In 2015 alone, more than 900,000 children died from this preventable and treatable illness, accounting for 16% of under-five child mortality worldwide, 3% of which are newborns.1
  • Pneumonia and diarrhea are the leading causes of death in West and Central Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa and South Asia.1 Children in poor and rural communities are most affected.
  • In 2008, there were an estimated 203,000 deaths due to Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and 541,000 deaths due to Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) in children under five.2

Pneumonia creates an economic burden for families, communities, and governments.

  • Preventing pneumonia averts treatment costs, other loses due to illness, and allows children to become healthy, productive adults.
  • Scaling up coverage of vaccines against Hib and pneumococcus in the world’s 73 poorest countries (2011-2020) would avert $51 billion dollars in treatment costs and productivity losses.3
  • This increase in vaccine coverage would also save 2.9 million lives and prevent 52 million cases of illness.3

Global Pneumonia Interventions

Controlling childhood pneumonia requires an integrated package of interventions to protect, prevent, and treat the disease. Fortunately, many of the interventions targeted at pneumonia also help control other childhood diseases, such as diarrhea, and should be part of a comprehensive approach to child survival.

Protect Against Pneumonia

      • Exclusive breast feeding during the first six months of life and adequate nutrition through age five protect babies from pneumonia, diarrhea, malnutrition, and other diseases.
      • Regular hand washing and access to clean water and sanitation protect children against pathogens that cause pneumonia, diarrhea, and other diseases.
      • Eliminating household air pollution, especially smoke from unsafe cookstoves, reduces the risk of severe pneumonia in children.

Prevent Pneumonia

      • Vaccines against pneumococcus, Hib, pertussis, and measles can prevent a significant portion of pneumonia cases from ever occurring.4
      • Other preventative strategies include: zinc supplementation for children with diarrhea, prevention of HIV infection in children & antibiotic prophylaxis for HIV-infected children.4

Treat Pneumonia

      • Antibiotics, such as amoxicillin, can prevent the majority of pneumonia deaths, and cost only about $US 0.21-0.42 per treatment course.5
      • Effective, integrated case management strategies ensure that children receive proper and timely treatment for pneumonia.4
      • Improving access to services and increasing awareness and demand for services within communities is crucial to controlling pneumonia.4

How can you help fight pneumonia?

      • Raise awareness about the global impact of pneumonia among policy makers, health care providers, and the public by advocating for increased funding for programs that protect against, prevent & treat pneumonia.
      • Hold a World Pneumonia Day event on November 12th.
      • Follow us! Twitter: @NoMorePneumo
      • Like us! Facebook: Prevent Pneumonia


Informational Resources

  1. Factsheets and Infographics
  2. Reports
  3. Journals and Articles


      1. UNICEF. Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed. Progress Report 2015. Available at: http://www.apromiserenewed.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/APR_2015_8_Sep_15.pdf. Accessed October 14, 2015.
      2. Johnson H, O’Brien KL, Levine OS, Mantel C, Cherian T, Provisional year 2008 estimate of pneumococcal and Hib disease deaths in children under 5 years of age. Based on Black et al. Lancet 2010 and O’Brien et al Lancet 2009.
      3. Stack ML and Ozawa S, Decade of Vaccine Economics (DOVE) Analysis, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, International Vaccine Access Center, 2012.
      4. WHO, UNICEF. The Integrated Global Action Plan for Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD). 2013. Available at: http://www.unicef.org/media/files/Final_GAPPD_main_Report-_EN-8_April_2013.pdf.
      5. United Nations Foundation. Every Woman, Every Child. Commission on Life-Saving Commodities. 2012. Available at: http://www.lifesavingcommodities.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/UN_Commission_Report_September_2012_Final.pdf. Accessed on October 14, 2015.

* WHO World Health Statistics 2012. Global Health Indicators.

Pneumonia Resources

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Share Key Facts

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Pneumonia is the #1 infectious killer of children under age 5 worldwide.
99% of all childhood deaths from pneumonia occur in the developing world.
Pneumonia is solvable

Pneumonia is one of the most solvable problems in global health. We have the safe, effective and affordable tools necessary to help prevent children from contracting pneumonia and to treat those suffering with this illness. See how!


We can win the fight

To advance progress, we must continue to scale up interventions that we know will save children’s lives, including continued access to vaccines, proper antibiotic treatment, improved sanitation, as well as the promotion of practices such as braestfeeding, frequent hand washing, care seeking, and the use of clean cookstoves to reduce indoor air pollution. See the infographic!


Make pneumonia a priority: Join the Coalition

Together we can ensure that everyone works together to make pneumonia a priority. Join the Global Coalition against Child Pneumonia.


Pneumonia Journal