Pneumonia Progress Report 2012
Recent estimates from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) show that pneumonia continues to be the number one killer of children around the world - causing 18% of all child mortality, an estimated 1.3 million child deaths in 2011 alone. Nearly all pneumonia deaths occur in developing countries, and three-quarters take place in just 15 countries. The majority of pneumonia cases are preventable or treatable.
In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF released the Global Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Pneumonia (GAPP), setting out a 90% coverage target by 2015 for three interventions: vaccination, breastfeeding, access to care and antibiotic treatment. If 90% coverage is reached, these interventions could prevent two thirds of all childhood pneumonia deaths. This Pneumonia Progress Report monitors coverage of the three GAPP interventions in the 15 countries with the highest absolute number of child pneumonia deaths in 2010.
The report reveals continued progress in some areas, along with setbacks and challenges. Nigeria,
India, and the Democratic Republic of Congo continue to suffer from low vaccination coverage and high child mortality. Bangladesh and Tanzania, formerly 12th and 14th, respectively, in childhood pneumonia deaths, are no longer in the top 15 worldwide, having been replaced by Mali and the aggregated Sudan and South Sudan. Tanzania and Bangladesh remain high mortality countries, at 16th and 17th worldwide.
Progress includes an overall reduction in worldwide child pneumonia deaths and introduction of pneumonia vaccines in almost all of the highest mortality countries. Alongside these gains, however, are continued issues with stock-outs and health systems capacity. The status of protection and treatment interventions—breastfeeding, access to health care providers, and antibiotic treatment— remains unclear, due to low availability of data.
Expanded and improved data collection efforts are urgently needed to inform decision-making at the country and global levels.
Even in the face of significant progress, pneumonia remains the biggest threat to children’s lives, and disproportionately affects the poorest children in the world. While the advances reported in this document are encouraging, it is also clear that more targeted and effective work is needed to scale up life-saving interventions and protect the world’s most vulnerable children from the devastating toll of pneumonia.