Deadliest disease worldwide: Two children die of pneumonia every minute

Deadliest disease worldwide: Two children die of pneumonia every minute

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Pneumonia kills almost a million children worldwide each year

Worldwide, millions of people die of pneumonia every year. The infectious disease mainly affects older and very young people. Experts say two children under the age of five die from pneumonia every minute. Even though a treatment only costs a few cents.

Pneumonia kills more people than any other disease

"Pneumonia causes more deaths in children worldwide than any other disease - more than malaria, diarrhea and measles combined," wrote the children's aid organization Save the Children in a fact sheet on their current report "Fighting for Breath". . It states that pneumonia is a "poverty disease". Millions of children could be saved.

Every minute, two children die of pneumonia

In 2015, a total of 920,000 children under the age of five died from pneumonia in 2015, two children every minute, according to the report released by the children's rights organization on the occasion of World Day to Combat Pneumonia (November 12).

No other disease is responsible for more deaths in children of this age. According to experts, the majority of deaths have been recorded in the poorest countries in the world, such as Somalia, Chad and Angola.

Over 80 percent of deaths occur in children under the age of two. These babies often have a weakened immune system due to malnutrition or insufficient supply of breast milk and are therefore unable to fight the infection.

Newborns are particularly at risk - also because over half of all mothers in Africa do not receive any health care before, during or after childbirth.

Save millions of children's lives

"The disease makes the toddlers concerned struggle for breath and their parents often despair of fear or, unfortunately, all too often leave with unbelievable pain and grief if the children lose the fight against pneumonia," said Susanna Krüger, Managing Director of Save the Children Germany , in a message.

"It is unacceptable that we let so many young lives be destroyed by an illness, even though we know how to avoid and treat it," said Krüger.

In the report, the child protection organization designs a scenario that will make it possible to save over five million children's lives by 2030 - because pneumonia is both preventable and treatable:

Pneumococcal vaccination can prevent pneumonia and medication is available after infection. Treatment with antibiotics only costs 0.34 euros and can cure a sick child in three to five days.

Lower prices for vaccines called for

"The report clearly shows that these measures are effective and that the number of deaths has already been reduced by 47 percent between 2000 and 2015," the experts write in their fact sheet.

"However, the progress is too slow: The decline in child mortality from pneumonia lags behind the success in combating other infectious diseases that are life-threatening for children," it continues.

To combat the frightening number of preventable deaths and save millions of children's lives, Save the Children is calling for cheaper vaccine prices.

In addition, the experts appeal to the governments of the affected and donor countries to put the fight against pneumonia at the top of the political agenda.

Preventive vaccination

In this country too, the risks of pneumonia are often underestimated. To prevent pneumonia, according to doctors, one should be vaccinated against pneumococci, the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia.

This protective measure is also highlighted in the revised vaccination recommendations of the Standing Vaccination Committee at the Robert Koch Institute (STIKO).

In a communication from the RKI it says: "Pneumococci are the main cause of bacterial pneumonia in Europe. STIKO estimates that more than 5,000 people in Germany die every year from the consequences of pneumococcal disease." (Ad)

Author and source information

Video: Pneumonia - Explained (August 2022).