Pneumonia will kill nearly 11 million children under the age of five by 2030. Experts warned on Monday on a global day to raise awareness of the world's largest infectious killer.
While in the developed world, severe lung infection affects mainly older people, in developing countries it is children who feel this burden, and hundreds of thousands die every year because of a disease that can be easily prevented.
Over 880,000 children – mainly under the age of 2 – died of pneumonia only in 2016.
A new study by Johns Hopkins University and the Save the Children help group using predictions based on current trends has shown that more than 10,800,000 people under the age of five will fall into this disease at the end of the next decade.
What's more, a handful of countries have the biggest burden – 1.7 million children die in Nigeria and India, 700,000 in Pakistan and 635,000 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
And yet there is good news.
A study published on World Pneumonia Day showed that increasing the existing vaccination coverage in combination with cheap antibiotics and providing good nutrition for children can save a total of 4.1 million people.
Pneumonia, an inflammatory lung infection that can be contracted by viral or bacterial infection, is treatable if it is detected early enough and the patient's immune system is not at risk.
But all over the world it hits small children who are often weak by malnutrition, killing more babies each year than malaria, diarrhea and measles together.
"The beggar believes that nearly one million children die each year because of a disease that we have the knowledge and resources to overcome," said Kevin Watkins, CEO of Save the Children.
"There are no pink ribbons, global peaks or marches for pneumonia, but anyone who cares about justice for children and their access to basic health care, this forgotten killer should be the defining cause of our age."
The Watkins Group, which runs health programs in some of the countries most affected by this disease, called for a radical reduction in the prices of major existing pneumonia vaccines.
2030 is the target date of the United Nations sustainable development goals, which include a commitment to "end the avoidable death of children" by the end of the next decade. AFP.