19 Apr The Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia – One Year On…
“We need to learn from COVID-19 concerning surveillance for pneumonia and leverage the technologies they have developed so far.” Dr Jesca Nsungwa Sabiiti, Ministry of Health, Uganda
How can we reduce child deaths from pneumonia during a global pandemic that has exponentially increased deaths from respiratory infection among adults?
This was the central question that brought together health ministers from 16 low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in three virtual roundtables, in March and April 2021, one year after they met at the inaugural Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia in Barcelona.
The roundtables were hosted by the Global Forum Steering Committee* to provide LMIC health ministers and leading health officials with an opportunity to discuss their successes and challenges in implementing the six strategic actions outlined in the Global Forum Declaration.
Guided by expert moderators, Gi Soon Song (Asian Development Bank), Minister Awa Marie Coll-Seck (Government of Senegal) and Dr Githinji Gitahi (AMREF), participants provided updates on their efforts to improve pneumonia control and protect vulnerable populations, increase financing and accelerate innovation, and improve monitoring and strengthen partnerships.
Despite the enormous challenges, LMIC health leaders reported achievements in several areas including increasing domestic and international financing; improving access to oxygen and pulse oximetry; strengthening data collection and surveillance; and expanding partnerships, especially with other government ministries and international health and development agencies.
This progress is a testament to the deep commitment to child survival shared by Health Ministers and their teams.
However, significant barriers remain to achieving the ambition of the Global Forum and realizing the Sustainable Development Goal vision of ending preventable child deaths by 2030.
Wide pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) coverage gaps; inadequate financing of community health workers; fragmented procurement of essential childhood medicines, especially child-friendly amoxicillin in dispersible table form; low careseeking by vulnerable families; and the lack of simple, effective tools to diagnose children with pneumonia – are all holding back further reductions in child pneumonia and other preventable deaths.
More broadly, countries raised challenges with sustaining strong governance for national and sub-national child survival efforts. While several countries stressed the need to increase collaboration with the private health sector, as both a point of service delivery for sick children and as a donor.
The summary of the meeting is available to download here. It outlines the major successes and challenges from the perspective of LMIC health ministers and officials, along with their inspiring plans to double down on the Global Forum Declaration commitments as their countries emerge from the pandemic.
“This is a discussion that should continue and the relationships that have been forged today must be continued because we all have to learn from each other.” Honorable Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Minister of State to the President of Senegal
Download the report here
*Global Forum Steering Committee members include ”la Caixa” Foundation, ISGlobal, Save the Children, UNICEF, Every Breath Counts, Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), PATH, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, Unitaid and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance