PNEUMONIA AWARENESS: A child dies from pneumonia every 39 seconds

PNEUMONIA AWARENESS: A child dies from pneumonia every 39 seconds.

By Abanobi Nkachukwu

Pneumonia is a contagious acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs, and the most common symptoms are coughing, difficulty breathing and fever. Pneumonia can be life-threatening to anyone, and the most at risk are children (under-five) and immunocompromised individuals, which makes it a global public health priority.

The three major forms of pneumonia infections are ;

  • Viral;
  • Bacterial and;
  • Fungal infections.

Pneumonia mortality among children under five is a global public health priority because, about 16% of 2,500 daily recorded deaths are under-five mortalities (Lema et al., 2019). Also, Sub-Saharan, West African and Southeast Asian countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria and Pakistan, account for half of these deaths (United Nations Children Fund, 2020c).

The 2008 World Health Organization bulletin estimated that every year, about 156 million worldwide cases of pneumonia are recorded in under-five populations, yet a decade later 800,000 under-five global deaths from pneumonia were recorded (UNICEF, 2020b), and over 153,000 neonates die of pneumonia yearly (UNICEF, 2020a).

Improved handwashing with soap has proven to limit bacterial transmission by up to 50 percent (UNICEF, 2020c). Also:

  • Breastfeeding;
  • Indoor, outdoor pollution control and;
  • Vaccination (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) are recommended as preventive measures against bacterial pneumonia.

While a new vaccine for one of the viral causes of pneumonia is under development (United Nations Children’s Fund, 2020c), what other measures do you think should be implemented to prevent pneumonia among the under-five population?


Adequate nutrition can also increase the natural defences of children against pneumonia.

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