UN: $39 billion needed for pneumonia

Nov 02, 2009 By MARIA CHENG , AP Medical Writer

(AP) -- To fight pneumonia, the world's top killer of children, United Nations officials say they need $39 billion (euro26.35 billion) over the next six years.

On the first World Day on Monday, the and UNICEF are releasing a global plan aiming to save more than 5 million from dying of pneumonia by 2015.

The plea for money is less than what has been spent on more high-profile diseases like AIDS, despite the fact pneumonia kills more children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

"This is very simply the biggest killer people never hear about," said Orin Levine, a public health expert at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health, who has advised WHO and UNICEF. Pneumonia accounts for about 20 percent of all child deaths every year; AIDS causes about 2 percent.

Some experts say the neglect of pneumonia is the health community's own fault. "While public health experts have long known the scope and severity of the scourge, they haven't effectively mobilized the backers to put pneumonia on the map," said Mary Beth Powers, a expert at Save the Children.

To change that, the U.N. is promoting a variety of strategies from vaccination to generalized interventions that address economic development. Pneumonia deaths are strongly linked to malnutrition and poverty.

While officials agree pneumonia deserves a much larger share of the global health budget, not all are convinced the U.N. plan is on target.

"Trillions of dollars have been spent on promoting economic development over the last 50 years, with very little evidence such spending has made any difference," said Philip Stevens, of the International Policy Network, a London-based think tank. "Much of the U.N's nearly $40 billion will be wasted unless they stick to vaccination."

Buying vaccines to protect children from pneumonia is precisely what GAVI, a global alliance of U.N. agencies and private partners like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, plans to do. GAVI hopes to raise $4 billion to vaccinate about 130 million children in 42 poor countries by 2015.

Since 2000, a vaccine to protect children from pneumonia has existed, but is only available in rich countries. "Children in poor countries have the same right to health, the same right to be immunized as children in rich nations," said Julian Lob-Levyt, GAVI's CEO in a statement.

With renewed attention and resources on pneumonia, health officials hope to slash the number of deaths in half in the next few years. "Until now, pneumonia has been off the radar," Levine said. "But this is a big problem that can be solved."

----

On the Net:

http://www.who.int

http://www.unicef.org

http://www.gavialliance.org

http://www.savethechildren.org

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Demographics impact family physicians' care of children

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Experts: UN program to save children didn't work

Jul 31, 2009

(AP) -- The U.N. unveiled a multimillion dollar strategy a dozen years ago to save children worldwide, but a new study has found the program had surprisingly little effect in Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest countries.

Cost-effective measures could stop child pneumonia deaths

Jun 01, 2009

Implementing measures to improve nutrition, indoor air pollution, immunization coverage and the management of pneumonia cases could be cost-effective and significantly reduce child mortality from pneumonia, according to a ...

Recommended for you

Demographics impact family physicians' care of children

Sep 12, 2014

(HealthDay)—Demographic and geographic factors influence whether family physicians provide care for children, according to a study published in the September/October issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Estimate: 3 in 10 NFL retirees face cognitive woes (Update)

Sep 12, 2014

Nearly three in 10 former NFL players will develop at least moderate neurocognitive problems and qualify for payments under the proposed $765 million concussion settlement, according to data prepared for ex-players' lawyers ...

Physician describes impact of malpractice suit

Sep 12, 2014

(HealthDay)—A family doctor who was involved in a malpractice suit describes the impact on her practice of medicine in an article published online in the September/October issue of the Annals of Family Me ...

Report outlines 'must-have' sexual health services for men

Sep 12, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—Compared with women, American men have worse access to reproductive and sexual health care, research shows, a disparity fueled in part by the lack of standard clinical guidelines on the types and timing ...

New report finds a healthy well-being among Chinese children

Sep 12, 2014

A new study of children's well-being in Shanghai finds that first-graders are socially and emotionally healthy, with most performing average or above average academically. The study, by the New York University-East China ...

User comments : 0