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Progress on Childhood Pneumonia


In 2017, in the lead up to our 100th anniversary, we launched our centenary commitment to fight childhood pneumonia. 

What makes pneumonia so disturbing is that pneumonia-related deaths are preventable, and pneumonia is treatable. Effective vaccines can prevent most cases. With early and accurate diagnosis, simple antibiotics costing $0.70 cents can treat childhood pneumonia. More severe cases can also be managed with medical oxygen – a treatment that is universally available to citizens in rich countries.

Our commitment was created as a vital strategy to address the systemic failings that are contributing to a deceleration of pneumonia-related child deaths compared to the progress seen in other disease areas. 

The report

Umera Bibi, 8 months, is seen with her mother, Sufiya Khatun, 30 years old at the Save The Children hospital

This report captures the achievements and learnings from our work to address childhood pneumonia, the biggest infectious killer of children, over the past four years. 

It addresses the challenges and opportunities for pneumonia that have resulted from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, disrupting our programmes and shining a global spotlight on associated issues relating to vaccination and oxygen access. 

Critically, it provides a perspective on the essential action that needs to continue if we and our partners are to deliver on our ambition of ending preventable childhood pneumonia deaths by 2030.

What do we have to say?

"Save the Children has made tremendous progress on our ambition to tackle childhood pneumonia. We have increased vaccinations, trained community health workers, and supported governments to implement pneumonia control strategies."

Kathryn Bolles, Health and Nutrition Global Director, Save the Children International

“Save the Children’s work on pneumonia has demonstrated that, even in an era marked by grinding under-ambition in international cooperation, change is possible when we combine our resources and work together.”

Kevin Watkins, CEO (2016-2021), Save the Children UK

“There has been remarkable expansion in funding for pneumonia programming in the country that has seen scale up of our ICCM and immunization programs in the country”

Dr Linda Misiko, Child Health Technical Advisor, Save The Children Kenya


If we work together to fight pneumonia, by 2030, we could prevent 3.2 million deaths from pneumonia. 

An additional 5.8 million lives could be saved from co-benefits in areas including nutrition, newborn interventions, and antibiotic treatments.

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 18-month-old Rohingya refugee Anwar* plays at home with mum Rahima*, after being released from the Save the Children primary healthcare centre

Anwar* (22 months) is a Rohingya refugee who lives with his mother Rahima* (25), in the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

Anwar was sick on and off for several months and was admitted to the Save the Children Primary Health Care Centre (PHCC), which is funded through ECHO. Anwar was suffering from symptoms of pneumonia and after three days of treatment, where he received care from Save the Children’s doctors and paramedics, Anwar was discharged from the PHCC.

Rahima says:

“I am feeling so happy that my child got cured from his sickness. Now when the disease comes back, if I bring him here he gets cured. So whenever he gets sick, I come here to consult with the doctor for him.”

*names changed to protect identity


 Save the Children Community Health Worker, Lucas, visits Elizabeth and her daughter Amoni, nine months, at their home in Turkana county.

Lucas has been working as a Community Health Volunteer (CHV) for ten years and is one of many Save the Children CHV's working in high risk communities across Kenya, raising awareness, identifying and monitoring cases of pneumonia, malnutrition and other life-threatening conditions and referring them to the nearest health facility.

Lucas, visited Elizabeth and her family at their home in Turkana county, Kenya. Lucas, helped identify and refer Elizabeth's daughter Amoni to get treatment for Pneumonia at Terkwel Health Centre. With help from Save the Children, Lucas is saving children's lives.

He says:

“The training from Save the Children is very important. Before, there were many fatalities and now after the training it is much better. There are no more deaths from pneumonia.”


Save the Children’s Family Health Worker Muna (42) holds Suhuur (2), who she diagnosed and treated for pneumonia.

Muna, 42, is a Family Health Worker with Save the Children. Muna lives in a camp for families displaced by drought and conflict and has dedicated years of her life to helping some of the most vulnerable children to access healthcare.

Muna’s visits two-year-old Suhuur who lives with her aunty Fosiya (42) and her cousin Amiira (7). Suhuur was born with a disability and has difficulties walking and talking. Her mother recently moved away leaving Suhuur with her aunty.  

“When I visited this family recently, I noticed Suhuur was breathing rapidly. I used a timer to measure her breaths and knew that she was having trouble breathing. I diagnosed her with pneumonia and gave her the treatment,” Muna says.

Muna also referred Suhuur to Save the Children’s clinic for treatment for malnutrition as she’d lost weight while she’d been sick.

“Muna comes by on almost a daily basis and keeps track of how the girls are going,” Fosiya says. “Sometimes I don’t even know the kids are ill but Muna helps keep an eye on them, diagnose any illnesses and them and give them medicine.”