Pneumonia is the single biggest infectious killer of adults and children – claiming the lives of 2.5 million, including 672,000 children, in 2019.
This year World Pneumonia Day – on 12 November 2020 – will be held during a global pandemic that is dramatically increasing pneumonia deaths from COVID-19 and other causes.
COVID-19 could add 1.9 million to the death toll this year. This could increase ‘all-cause’ pneumonia deaths by more than 75%. No other infection causes this burden of death.
Disruptions to healthcare services are estimated to cause up to an additional 2.3 million child deaths– 35% from pneumonia and newborn sepsis.
Many countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America, struggling with heavy burdens of COVID-19 and child pneumonia deaths, will need effective strategies to fight both. Investments in infection prevention (masks, social distancing, hand washing etc), and improved diagnosis and treatment (with pulse oximetry and oxygen) can save lives during the pandemic – and beyond.
This World Pneumonia Day, we are calling on governments and other stakeholders to ensure that the massive effort to control the pandemic contributes to reducing ‘all-cause’ respiratory infections and deaths among both children and adults for the long term.