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Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia

  • 01 Feb 2020
  • 3 min read

Why in News

World’s first conference on Childhood Pneumonia was held in Barcelona (Spain) to make it part of the global health agenda.

  • Despite being the biggest infectious killer of children, pneumonia remains a neglected disease both nationally and globally.
    • Every 39 seconds, a child under-5 dies from it.
  • Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia is an initiative of 9 leading health and children’s organisations including UNICEF, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Gavi among others.
  • The theme of the conference is ‘Fighting for Breath’.


  • Pneumonia is an acute respiratory infection of the lungs.
  • Cause: It doesn’t have one single cause – it can develop from either bacteria, viruses or fungi in the air.
  • Vaccine: Pneumonia caused by bacteria is easily preventable with vaccines. 3 doses of the primary vaccine (Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) to prevent it are recommended.
  • Vulnerability:
    • Children whose immune systems are immature (i.e. newborns) or weakened – such as by undernourishment, or diseases like HIV – are more vulnerable to pneumonia.
  • Spread:
    • Pneumonia is contagious and can be spread through coughing or sneezing. It can also be spread through fluids, like blood during childbirth, or from contaminated surfaces.


  • Preventable:
    • The poorest children are most at risk because of high rates of malnutrition, low vaccine coverage and limited access to correct diagnosis and timely treatment.
    • Almost all of the deaths from childhood pneumonia are preventable through vaccination, adequate nutrition, reducing risk factors like air pollution (which makes the lungs more vulnerable to infection), using good hygiene practices and treatable with low-cost antibiotics and oxygen,
      • Outdoor air pollution contributes to nearly 18% or nearly 1 in 5 pneumonia deaths among children under 5.
    • Exclusive Breastfeeding:
      • Exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months of a child's life can lead to a 23% reduction in pneumonia incidence.
      • Infants who aren’t breastfed are 15 times more likely to die from pneumonia.
  • Incidence:
    • Global: Together, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria and Pakistan account for more than half of all deaths due to pneumonia among children under 5.
    • India: Annually, 14% of under-5 deaths in India happen due to pneumonia.

Source: IE

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