Boosting efforts to fight pneumonia could avert nearly 140,000 child deaths from pneumonia and other major diseases in Bangladesh, new analysis has found.
The modelling by Johns Hopkins University was released today. It forecasts that over 100,000 children under the age of five could die from pneumonia over the next decade in Bangladesh, on current trends.
However, an estimated 48,000 of these deaths would be averted by significantly scaling up services to prevent and treat pneumonia.
Researchers also found that boosting pneumonia services would create an additional 'ripple effect', preventing almost 92,000 extra child deaths from other major childhood diseases at the same time.
Interventions like improving nutrition, increasing vaccine coverage or boosting breastfeeding rates – key measures that reduce the risk of children dying from pneumonia – would also stop thousands of child deaths from diseases like diarrhoea (25,000) and sepsis (33,000).
By 2030, that effect would be so large that pneumonia interventions alone would avert almost 140,000 predicted under-five child deaths in Bangladesh from all causes combined, researchers said.
The disease is a leading killer of children in Bangladesh, causing 13% of under-five deaths.
Most pneumonia deaths can be prevented with vaccines, and easily treated with low-cost antibiotics. But very few one-year-olds in Bangladesh are not vaccinated, and more than half of children suffering from pneumonia symptoms do not get access to medical treatment.
Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive of Save the Children, said, "These results show what is possible. It would be morally indefensible to stand and allow millions of children continue to die for want of vaccines, affordable antibiotics and routine oxygen treatment."
Tomoo Hozumi, Representative of Unicef, said, "Children from the poorest households are half as likely to seek care and twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday as compared to children from the richest households. A multisectoral approach and coordinated plan is required in the areas of health, nutrition, water, sanitation, hygiene and air-pollution."