Pneumonia, often caused by air pollution, is the leading cause of infant mortality.
Every 40 seconds a child under five years of age dies from pneumonia. There are 2,000 deaths every day, and about 800,000 in a year. Pneumonia is the leading cause of infant mortality in the world.
It is the global shame that the Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia wanted to highlight. A reality well known, but forgotten, disproportionately affects the most disadvantaged and marginalized in the poorest countries.
The story seems to repeat itself. Someone’s child –often under 5 years of age- began having breathing problems. After a call or a trip to the emergency room children are given antibiotics and an oxygen mask.
Nigeria is at the top of the list in terms of infant mortality due to pneumonia, with 162,000 deaths in 2018, according to UNICEF data. It is followed by India, with 127,000, Pakistan with 58,000, Democratic Republic of the Congo with 40,000 and Ethiopia with 32,000.
But there is hope: nine million lives can be saved in the next decade.
The weapons to achieve it already exist: proper diagnosis, prevention and treatment.
While the medical Establishment uses every opportunity to push new vaccine experiments to treat disease, the two most important steps in the prevent so many deaths are proper diagnosis and prevention, because vaccines are widely debunked as solutions.
There is no better immunization than the natural one, obtained by the human body while being exposed to the disease. As in all corners of the world, nutrition and the environment where children live are the two most effective weapons to prevent disease.
If all the money spent in vaccine research was used to provide proper nutrition and a clean environment in places where pneumonia is a problem, children would grow up stronger and naturally capable of fighting infection. However, programs and projects such as the ones contemplated in the UN 2030 goals, base their plans solely on vaccinations, not nutrition and a clean environment.
All assistance is necessary to achieve the goal of ending the avoidable deaths of newborns and children under five by 2030, as established by the third of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the UN, but vaccines will certainly not help eradicate those deaths.
About 15% of all children deaths that happen in the world are due to pneumonia and it is possible to cut that number down considerably. Johns Hopkins University has changed and expanded its treatment and prevention services for this disease, so they can save the lives of 3.2 million children under five.
Nutrition will help avoid health complications. Perhaps the most important of all types of nutrition is breastfeeding because it reduces the risk of dying from this disease, while also reducing other ailments. such as diarrhea, sepsis and measles.
We could save many more children if we take into account the positive impact of factors such as the availability of oxygen in medical facilities or actions to reduce pollution, which increases the risk of pneumonia.
It would be morally indefensible to allow millions of children to continue dying due to lack of nutrition and a clean environment, hospitals and routine oxygen treatment.
Health interventions are not enough to beat this disease. The causes that increase the chances of getting pneumonia and dying from it, such as malnutrition or air pollution, must be addressed.
Pollution is one of the most complicated challenges. Outdoor pollution contributes to 17.5% of pneumonia deaths in children under five years of age in the world, according to a study by the Institute for Health Assessment and Measurement (IHME-GBD).
In many homes, the use of solid cooking fuels indoors favors 195,000 additional deaths.
In terms of malnutrition, of the nine million deaths that could be avoided by 2030, 3.9 would be the result of improving nutrition levels, according to the Johns Hopkins University model.
Of all the interventions to overcome this challenge, there are two that must be highlighted:
- Promote exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months and;
- Improve access to drinking water and sanitation.Public resources to help less favored nations in this battle against the disease should increase.This is not the only commitment expected among 50 developing countries, including 20 health ministers and senior representatives of international agencies, civil society, private sector and scientific community.