Pneumonia - The Forgotten Epidemic
Pneumonia kills more children globally than any other disease.
One child dies from Pneumonia every 39 seconds
In July 2019 Edward’s mum Catherine got worried when she noticed he was having difficulty breathing.
He was rushed to hospital, where he was diagnosed with severe pneumonia.
Doctors took an x-ray of Edward’s chest...
... which revealed that his lung had completely collapsed.
“He woke up in the night gasping for breath. He was making a sound I’d never heard him make before. It was really scary,” said Catherine.
Edward spent two weeks in hospital, where he was given antibiotics and breathing support. He was also given physiotherapy to help clear his lungs. He has now recovered but still suffers from fatigue.
“I knew people were hospitalised for pneumonia but I thought it was only really old people. I had no idea it could be so dangerous for young children. I was surprised how severely ill it made him,” said Catherine.
In England, 6 children like Edward are admitted to hospital with pneumonia every hour
For children suffering with pneumonia, it's a lonely battle. Their lungs stop working filling up with fluid until every gasping breath becomes agony. Many die from exhaustion - their fragile bodies too shattered to fight any more.
Children living in areas with high levels of air pollution are at far greater risk of developing the disease.
Often the most affected are the poorest and most vulnerable children, where conditions like diarrhoea and malnutrition can leave them at a greater risk of contracting pneumonia
Pneumonia is preventable with the correct vaccinations, and can easily be treated with antibiotics if it is properly diagnosed.
But, despite the UK's leading role in improving access to vaccines and health services, on a global basis tens of millions of children are still not vaccinated around the world- and one in three with symptoms do not receive essential medical care.
Children with severe cases of pneumonia may also require oxygen treatment, which is rarely available in the poorest countries to the children who need it.
Luc* was just 19 months old when his mother, Makenda* took him to a Save the Children supported hospital in the Makota region in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He had been very ill five days before his mother brought him to hospital.
"We started to treat him at home in the neighborhood health centre. They found that he was suffering from a cough and I thought it was better to bring him to a big hospital for treatment," his mother said.
"I arrived and I showed them that my child is weak and (I said) please give blood to my son, I see he is pale."
Now after treatment Luc* is beginning to recover
He is now able to eat and even to drink his therapeutic milk alone
If he had stayed at home for longer, he could have died.
Pneumonia is a treatable disease.
We know how to prevent and treat it.
We are working to scale up our programmes on the ground and are also joining forces with partners to get life-saving vaccines and antibiotics to children.
We're also calling on governments to ensure all children have access to healthcare, regardless of where they are. We can't fight this alone.
This is a forgotten global epidemic that demands an urgent international response.