United Nations, November 15
India had the second-highest number of deaths of children under the age of five in 2018 due to pneumonia, a curable and preventable disease that claimed the life of one child every 39 seconds globally, according to a new report by the UN.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that globally, pneumonia claimed the lives of more than 800,000 children under the age of five last year--or one child every 39 seconds. Most deaths occurred among children under the age of two, and almost 153,000 within the first month of life.
The report said just five countries were responsible for more than half of child pneumonia deaths: Nigeria (162,000), India (127,000), Pakistan (58,000), the Democratic Republic of Congo (40,000) and Ethiopia (32,000).
This “forgotten epidemic” is now responsible for 15 per cent of deaths in children under the age of five, and yet, just three per cent of global infectious disease research spending is allocated to the disease, the UN agency said.
In addition, the strong link between child pneumonia deaths and poverty is undeniable. Lack of access to drinking water, inadequate health care, and the burden of under-nutrition and indoor air pollution are major drivers of vulnerability to the disease. Around half of all pneumonia-related deaths are associated with air pollution.
Sounding the alarm about this forgotten epidemic, the UNICEF and other health and children’s organisations launched an appeal for global action and will in January host world leaders at the Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia in Spain. PTI
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