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Pneumonia

The world's deadliest disease

Pneumonia kills over 800,000 under fives each year. Stand with us to help give children a fighting chance.

Pneumonia leaves an estimated 4.2 million under-fives in 124 low- and middle-income countries with critically low oxygen levels.

The situation could become even more serious as a result of health service disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite the facts, many people don't realise just how deadly pneumonia is for young children.

It's not only a disease that affects the elderly, but one which stalks young children in developing countries.

For the children suffering, it’s a lonely battle. Their lungs stop working, filling up with fluid until every gasping breath becomes agony. 

Many die from exhaustion – their fragile bodies simply too shattered to fight any more.

Every child who dies from pneumonia is being cheated of the chance to reach their potential. We know how to prevent and treat it.

 

What we're doing to help

Despite its prevalence, we know how to prevent and treat pneumonia.

We partner with UNICEF in nine countries and in Nigeria, helped frame the country’s first anti-pneumonia strategy, while our advocacy has seen anti-pneumonia vaccination introduced into Indonesia's immunisation programme. 

We played a key role in organising the first ever Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia, and we've partnered with a brilliant advocacy coalition called Every Breath Counts to get issues like medical oxygen supply on the international agenda.

We're also calling on governments to strengthen health systems and ensure all children have access to healthcare, regardless of where they are. We can't fight this alone. We need your help.

Help us by joining our campaign against pneumonia today.

 

A complex picture

Here's the simple truth: Pneumonia stalks the weakest.

However, the factors that allow it to kill so many children are more complex.

In the world’s toughest countries, it’s the poorest and most vulnerable children who are more likely to suffer. Conditions like malnutrition and diarrhoea leave them weak and at greater risk of pneumonia.

They’re also exposed to dirty air that makes their little lungs vulnerable to infection and bacteria. For many children, the odds are stacked against them from the day they’re born. A lottery of birth is denying them access to the life-saving healthcare they desperately need.

They’re not getting the necessary vaccinations, and their symptoms aren’t being spotted until it’s too late. 

Luc's* Story

Luc* is 19 months old and has severe pneumonia.

Luc’s mother first started to worry when Luc developed vomiting and diarrhoea. After this he started coughing heavily and was struggling to breathe. For five days Luc’s mother treated him at home and at local centres. Although she was worried about him, she knew that she would struggle to pay for the hospital bills.

As Luc’s health continued to worsen, his mother had to take him to hospital, despite not knowing how she could pay the bills.

 By the time they arrived, Luc was comatose and Dr Emile was alarmed at how fast his breathing was and that his oxygen saturation was 7% lower than it should be.

The doctors immediately put Luke on Oxygen and gave him a blood transfusion. They also started a course of antibiotics. After a terrifying 24 hours in which the Luc continued to deteriorate, he began to respond to the medication.

Luc is now conscious and stable.

* Luc's name has been changed to keep him safe

How big is the problem?

A map showing the scale of pneumonia.

A map showing the scale of pneumonia.

Deaths of children under five by leading infectious diseases, 2018

Deaths of children under five by leading infectious diseases, 2018

Fighting for breath

Help us raise awareness

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