November 2, 2009

Plan Could Save 5.3 Million Children From Pneumonia

On Monday, the UN released an outlined plan that would cost $39 billion to save 5.3 million children from dying of pneumonia worldwide.

"Pneumonia is the leading cause of under age five mortality, killing more than 4,000 children every day," said Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director. "Effective interventions to reduce deaths caused by pneumonia must be used more widely and made more readily available for children at risk."

About 1.8 million children under the age of five die from pneumonia each year.

The World Health Organization and the UN Children's Fund announced the launch of a new plan in 68 developing countries to fight pneumonia.

"This action plan provides the strategy to prevent and control pneumonia, which today kills more children than any other illness," said WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. "We know the strategy will work, and if it is applied in every high burden country, we will be able to prevent millions of deaths."

Anne Golaz, a senior health adviser at Unicef, said that 5.3 million children's lives could be saved from now to 2015 once the new plan begins.

The Global Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Pneumonia (GAPP) outlines specific goals and targets in order to increase awareness of pneumonia in children.

The GAPP strategy is comprised of three parts:

* Protecting every child, by providing an environment where the risk of pneumonia is low by promoting healthy practices such as exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.

* Preventing children from contracting pneumonia, through increased penetration of related vaccines, including measles vaccine and pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.

* Treating children who become ill with pneumonia with the right care and antibiotics, including at the community level.


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