Ethiopia Comemorates World Pneumonia Day
Pneumonia claimed the lives of 32,000 Ethiopian children under the age of five last year, or four children every hour, according to a new analysis.
Save the Children is calling for the Ethiopian government to urgently commit new resources to tackling the deadly disease.
Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi, and leaves children fighting for breath as their lungs fill with pus and fluid.The disease is a leading killer of children in Ethiopia, causing 17% of under-five deaths in 2018.
Globally, 802,000 children under the age of five died from pneumonia in 2018, more than from any other disease. 437,000 children under five died due to diarrhoea and 272,000 to malaria.
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).
Children with immune systems weakened by other infections or by malnutrition, and those living in areas with high levels of air pollution and unsafe water, are at far greater risk.
The organisations found Ethiopian children born in the poorest households were 30% more likely to die from diseases like pneumonia before their fifth birthday, compared to the richest children. For instance, Children living in Afar were three times more likely to die before the age of five, compared to children from Addis Ababa.
Most pneumonia deaths can be prevented with vaccines, and easily treated with low-cost antibiotics.
But millions of children are missing out on both. More than half of one-year-olds in Ethiopia are unvaccinated, and two in three children suffering from pneumonia symptoms do not get access to medical treatment.
As the world comemorates 10th global pneumonia day, Save the Children is calling on the Ethiopian government to develop and implement a Pneumonia Control Strategy to reduce child pneumonia deaths, as part of a wider strategy for universal health coverage.
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