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News Outlets Examine First World Pneumonia Day

To mark the first World Pneumonia Day, Inter Press Service examines how vaccines and other strategies can be used to combat the disease, which kills more children under age 5 each year “than measles, malaria, and AIDS combined, according to the Global Coalition against Child Pneumonia.”

“Vaccines against pneumonia (Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemonophilus influenzae type b or Hib) exist, but their distribution in the developing world is not at the levels needed to prevent high childhood fatality rates from pneumonia,” IPS writes. To address the problem, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) aims to provide low-income countries with low cost pneumococcal vaccines. Eleven developing countries currently receive support from the GAVI Alliance. “If fully rolled out in GAVI-eligible countries, the pneumococcal vaccine could save the lives of more than 440,000 children by 2015,” said Julian Lob-Levyt, CEO of the GAVI Alliance.  

The U.S. is considering legislation that could help prevent deaths from pneumonia in developing countries. “The Maternal, Newborn and Child Survival Act, now before Congress, would expand the reach of life-saving tools – vaccines, antibiotics and trained health workers – to more mothers and babies in poor countries,” Bill Frist, former U.S. Senate majority leader, said (D’Angelo, 11/2). 

IRIN also explores the global fight to prevent pneumonia deaths. “Health organizations have joined forces to launch the first World Pneumonia Day, urging governments, donors and civil society to act to prevent and treat the world’s leading child killer,” the news service writes. “There has been little traction on the pneumonia issue for years but it now feels like we are at a tipping point,” said Orin Levine, executive director of the pneumonia research programme at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The article also looks at the WHO and UNICEF’s new Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia (11/2).

Chicago Public Radio interviews Steven Goldstein, director of the Institute of Molecular Pediatric Science at the University of Chicago. Goldstein recently traveled to Bangladesh on a trip with Save the Children, where he witnessed how pneumonia affects children in the developing world (11/2).