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Report: Pneumonia kills 4 children every 3hrs in Bangladesh

  • Published at 12:48 am November 13th, 2019
Pneumonia claims the lives of four children under the age of five every three hours in Bangladesh Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

One child dies in every 39 seconds worldwide

Pneumonia, the world's deadliest child killer, claims the lives of four children under the age of five every three hours in Bangladesh, reason behind the country's high child mortality rate, says a recent report.

Save the Children, Unicef and Every Breath Counts Coalition, in a report published on Tuesday marking World Pneumonia Day, stated that pneumonia killed more than 12,000 Bangladeshi children in 2018.

According to the report, nearly four children lost their lives every three hours in Bangladesh last year meaning that pneumonia caused 13% of the total child [under the age of five] deaths in the country. 

"Every day, nearly 2,200 children under the age of five die from pneumonia, a curable and mostly preventable disease," Henrietta Fore, executive director of Unicef, said.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Shamim Jahan, director - Health, Nutrition & HIV/AIDS, Save the Children told Dhaka tribune that pneumonia, a preventable disease, kills more children than any other infection in Bangladesh.

“Only a little awareness can bring the number of child deaths caused by pneumonia to its lowest,” she said.

Bangladesh ranked 14th in the list of total 15 countries who were listed for the high number of deaths due to pneumonia, followed by its South Asian neighbours India, ranked second with 127,000 and Pakistan, ranked third with 58,000 child deaths.

The report further stated that pneumonia was the third major cause of child deaths in 2017 in Bangladesh. This infectious disease was responsible for the deaths of four children under five in 1,000 live births in 2018. 

According to Global Action Plan for Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD), the global target for pneumonia mortality rate for children under five by 2025 is three per 1000 live births. 

The report mentioned that Bangladesh is expected to reach the GAPPD 2025 target by 2022 following the 8% average annual rate of reduction in pneumonia mortality measured during 2000 to 2018.

The report said although Bangladesh has over 97% pneumococcal conjugate (PVC3), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) and haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib3) vaccine coverage for one-year-old children.

However, the country spent just $6 per person on health care in 2016, far below the minimum amount of $86 recommended by World Health Organisation (WHO). 

According to the report, Pneumonia claimed the lives of more than 800,000 children under the age of five in 2018, or one child every 39 seconds. 

The numbers make grim reading and compare with 437,000 under-fives dying last year due to diarrhoea and 272,000 to malaria.

Only five countries accounted for more than half of the child pneumonia deaths - Nigeria with 162,000, India 127,000, Pakistan 58,000, the Democratic Republic of Congo 40,000 and Ethiopia 32,000. 

Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi, and leaves children fighting for breath as their lungs fill with pus and fluid.

The disease can be prevented with vaccines, and easily treated with low-cost antibiotics if properly diagnosed.

But tens of millions of children are still going unvaccinated – and one in three with symptoms do not receive essential medical care.