Globally, pneumonia and diarrhea together led to almost one out of every four deaths that occurred in children under the age of five in 2016. Report on the Progress of Pneumonia and Diarrhea in 2018 – published before the 10th annual World Pneumonia Day, November 12, the International Center for Access to Vaccine (IVAC) at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Bloomberg – describes efforts to fight pneumonia and diarrhea in 15 countries with the greatest number of deaths from these diseases.
This report analyzes the effective functioning of the state or provides for the use of 10 key interventions including exclusive breastfeeding, vaccination, access to care and antibiotic use, oral rehydration and zinc supplements to prevent and treat pneumonia and diarrhea. These measures are known to help protect children from dying for these diseases and can help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal goal to reduce mortality from five to five years to at least 25% per 1000 live births by 2030.
The progress report on lung and diarrhea that IVAC has issued almost a decade annually concludes that although countries are advancing in improving vaccine coverage, they are severely lagging behind in efforts to cure childhood illnesses – especially among populations remote, impoverished or otherwise left .
"Progress to stop the deaths of children is endangered by persistent inequalities in countries across the globe," said Kate O'Brien, MD, MPH, professor at the Bloomberg School's International Health Care Department and IVAC's executive director. "Addressing these inequalities will require a greater level of funding, strong political commitment, better-informed responsibility, and coordinated global effort that prioritises the most vulnerable."
Eight of the 15 countries said they failed to meet the targets for any of the 10 interventions for the protection and treatment of pneumonia and diarrhea as outlined in the World Health Organization and UNICEF's Integrated Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD ), The two countries met a 90% coverage rate for at least four vaccines. About treatment measures, none of the 15 countries failed to reach the targeted coverage levels of 90%.
For the first time, the annual report reviewed stratified national data, revealing inequalities in how much countries have provided rescue interventions for children by gender, place of residence (ie urban or rural), mother's education and wealth.
The authors conclude that, in order to accelerate progress, governments regularly collect better data. The global community must give priority to improving access to preventive and medical interventions for children who are not at present achieved. Collaborators need to continue or increase support for proven solutions – or the risk of moving progress. Finally, integrating strategies related to health systems, poverty and education can provide opportunities to improve equality in many countries.