On the day that marks the 5th World Pneumonia Day, almost 3000 children under five will die because of pneumonia, a preventable disease that kills one child every 30 seconds. Pneumonia remains the single biggest killer of children under five globally, claiming the lives of more than one million girls and boys every year.
Many factors are responsible of the development of the disease, and no single intervention is able to effectively prevent, treat and control it. However, WHO together with UNICEF and GAVI are promoting five simple but effective steps that need to be scaled up and implemented properly to reduce the burden of the disease.
• exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and continued breastfeeding complemented by nutritious solid foods up to age 2;
• Vaccination against whooping cough (pertussis), measles, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and pneumococcus;
• Safe drinking water, sanitation and handwashing facilities;
• Improved cooking stoves to reduce indoor air pollution;
• Treatment, including amoxicillin dispersible tablets and oxygen.
As collectively representing the biggest donor in the world, the European Union has a crucial role to play in the fight against child pneumonia. The current negotiations on the next Multiannual Financial Framework, EU’s 7-year budget, represent a unique opportunity for the European Union to ensure sustainable and long-term investments in addressing the causes of a disease that is responsible for almost one fifth of all child deaths around the world as well as improving the access to quality health services in affected countries.
EU’s commitment for global health must therefore be reflected in the definition of the 11th European Development Fund priorities and the next Development Cooperation Instrument through the allocation of at least 20% of both geographic and thematic programmes to the provision of health and basic education. Increased resources to fight the disease at the EU level, together with enhanced political will and coordinated efforts have the potential to accelerate the fight against pneumonia and end preventable child deaths.