Today marks the 6th annual World Pneumonia Day.
Last year, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “By working to protect children from pneumonia, we can shield them from other deadly diseases and help them to survive and thrive.”
Today, the global community still struggles to make progress in controlling the number one infectious killer of children under the age of 5 globally. Pneumonia kills more than 25,000 children per day and close to 1 million children each year. The illness primarily affects children and families in poor and rural communities.
A shocking part of this is that pneumonia can be prevented with a vaccine and treated with antibiotics. Yet, children are dying because existing effective interventions that boost their natural defenses and create a healthy environment are not available. These interventions include adequate nutrition, early and exclusive breastfeeding for newborns, hand-washing with soap.
For sick children and newborns, early access to antibiotics and oxygen therapy can be lifesaving. Better equipment for the detection of pneumonia is also essential. Equitable access to the right prevention, diagnosis, and care is crucial to defeat the disease.
What is PSI doing to stop pneumonia?
We are working to reduce pneumonia deaths among children under five by advocating for better access to pneumonia treatment, promoting awareness of how to prevent pneumonia and training providers to offer quality treatment.
Positive behavior of private health providers is critical to beating childhood pneumonia. In Cambodia while many providers prescribe medication for pneumonia, not all perform the necessary assessment and diagnosis first.
So PSI’s Cambodia-based network member Population Services Khmer (PSK) works with private health providers within a network to deliver high-quality pneumonia services, particularly through correct diagnosis and treatment of children ages 1-5 years.
Network providers are supported with initial and ongoing training, quarterly support, a quarterly non-monetary incentive program, and are encouraged to perform daily client recording and monthly report submission.
Neath Chanmony, a Cambodian mother who sought care for her child at a PSI-operated clinic, said, “When I took my son [in for care], I was surprised that [the doctor] asked for my son’s identification (name, age…), gave him a careful assessment and recorded his information into her form. She had not done this before. Once the assessment was completed, she gave me medicine and told me how to use it for 3 days, and when to return. I do not remember what the medicine was called, but it’s a dispersible small white tablet with orange flavor… My son recovered after 3 days.”
PSI is works with national governments, donors and global coalitions to advocate for quality pneumonia diagnosis and treatment. Along with quality integrated treatment of pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria. Prompt and correct treatment of pneumonia and diarrhea, which account for 25 percent of all child deaths globally, can drastically reduce child mortality.
The determinants of these diseases are often the same, meaning the same interventions can help to address both diseases, such as exclusive breast feeding, proper nutrition, HIV prevention and measles vaccination. Further integrating quality care of childhood illnesses in community and health facilities can increase access to appropriate prevention and treatment services for children.
Integrated community case management (iCCM), the delivery of timely and low-cost health interventions at the community level to children under five years of age, is an effective strategy that supports coordination among donors and implementing partners while increasing their value for money.