August 08

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United in fighting Pneumonia

 

Firstly, what is pneumonia? It is a condition where there is lung inflammation caused generally by bacterial or viral infection but could also be fungal or parasitic, which causes the air sacs of the lung to fill with fluid and mucus. This leads to difficulties in breathing and efficiency of oxygen exchange which as you can imagine if untreated can be life threatening especially in people whose immunity is low. Save the Children’s Pneumonia Centenary Commitment (PCC) began in early 2017, linked to the organisation’s 100th anniversary in 2019 and the breakthrough aims to inspire by 2030: to ensure that no child dies from preventable causes before their fifth birthday.  As the disease that is responsible for the most deaths of children under five, Save the Children cannot achieve this without focusing our efforts around ending preventable child deaths from pneumonia. The key word here is preventable. So, what are the barriers in meeting this objective? There are various elements: politics, infrastructure, education, access to medicines, sanitation, hygiene and appropriate diagnosis and treatment to name a few.

Save the Children have been working with nine high-burden countries (Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan) where pneumonia deaths in children are most prevalent (our ‘beacon countries’) to drive the change needed in tackling the disease, and as a result demonstrate successful impact to other stakeholders and national settings. Over the past year, countries have developed plans on key priorities for tackling childhood pneumonia in their national settings and for moving forward key advocacy and programme implementation activities over the next three years. Over this period, we have fostered greater partnership with UNICEF, Every Breath Counts Coalition and the Ministries of Health, with the aim of building a movement of stakeholders to tackle this challenge together. 

So how am I helping the cause in fighting pneumonia in these high burden countries? I have started with two key activities related to the Pneumonia Centenary Commitment for Save the Children:

– Provide leadership for planning and delivery of pneumonia beacon country face-to-face meeting on pneumonia in September in Kenya, which is a collaboration with UNICEF. This will involve bringing together both Save the Children and UNICEF focal points from the 9 beacon countries to review the national plans, progress and key next stepson tackling childhood pneumonia in their country in preparation for the Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia with external partners and donors in January 2020.

– Carrying out an analysis on the country plans, which outline key objectives and activities of work each beacon country has defined. The country plans outline the strategy and activities that are required in 2019–2021 to move us closer to meeting the commitment by 2030. The activities are focused in three areas: diagnosis and treatment, prevention and protection. This analysis will support identification of any gaps and or common themes across the 9 beacon countries and where additional support is required to meet the countries objectives.

As you can see I have started my journey and have been welcomed into the Save the Children family with open arms and I’m proud to be contributing to this impact. The impact of not responding is not an option, if we do not intervene the anticipated death rate in children under 5 is 730,000 deaths per year which would equate to the potential of 5.3 million lives saved by 2030. The translation of these pneumonia plans into action is therefore vital, but it will need all partners and governments to work together and share in Save the Children’s commitment.  Interested to see your feedback on your role and how your work is having an impact on saving children’s lives and/or improving individuals quality of life?

If you want to learn more about Save the Children’s work in Pneumonia please use the link below:

https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/what-we-do/health/pneumonia