15 Apr Pneumonia’s second wind? A case study of the global health network for childhood pneumonia
Abstract: Advocacy, policy, research and intervention efforts against childhood pneumonia have lagged behind other health issues, including malaria, measles and tuberculosis. Accelerating progress on the issue began in 2008, following decades of efforts by individuals and organizations to address the leading cause of childhood mortality and establish a global health network. This article traces the history of this network’s formation and evolution to identify lessons for other global health issues. Through document review and interviews with current, former and potential network members, this case study identifies five distinct eras of activity against childhood pneumonia: a period of isolation (post WWII to 1984), the duration of WHO’s Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI) Programme (1984–1995), Integrated Management of Childhood illness’s (IMCI) early years (1995–2003), a brief period of network re-emergence (2003–2008) and recent accelerating progress (2008 on). Analysis of these eras reveals the critical importance of building a shared identity in order to form an effective network and take advantage of emerging opportunities. During the ARI era, an initial network formed around a relatively narrow shared identity focused on community-level care. The shift to IMCI led to the partial dissolution of this network, stalled progress on addressing pneumonia in communities and missed opportunities. Frustrated with lack of progress on the issue, actors began forming a network and shared identity that included a broad spectrum of those whose interests overlap with pneumonia. As the network coalesced and expanded, its members coordinated and collaborated on conducting and sharing research on severity and tractability, crafting comprehensive strategies and conducting advocacy. These network activities exerted indirect influence leading to increased attention, funding, policies and some implementation.
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