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UNICEF welcomes spotlight on a major cause of childhood deaths in latest WHO Bulletin

NEW YORK, 1 May 2008 - UNICEF today welcomed the launch of a comprehensive review of research into childhood pneumonia, which was published in the latest World Health Organization (WHO) Bulletin.

This special edition of the Bulletin, which includes papers from health experts around the world, highlights the fact that pneumonia kills more children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. It also shows that proven, effective interventions exist to prevent and treat pneumonia but the coverage of these interventions remains too low.

“Pneumonia remains a significant problem in many countries but in particular in communities with a high rate of under-five mortality, and it places a huge burden on families and the health system,” said Peter Salama, Chief, UNICEF Health Section.

“Pneumonia control is therefore a priority and is essential in achieving Millennium Development Goal Four, which calls for a reduction by two-thirds in the under-five mortality rate by 2015.”

Important underlying causes of childhood pneumonia are poverty, poor household environment (overcrowding, poor hygiene and smoke) and malnutrition. WHO, UNICEF and other organizations have called on countries to develop plans for controlling pneumonia in the context of their existing newborn and child survival plans and strategies. The key strategies for pneumonia control are:

• use of vaccines such as measles, pertussis, H. Influenzae and Pneumococcus;
• increase exclusive breastfeeding rates;
• zinc supplementation as part of management of diarrhoea;
• reduction of indoor air pollution;
• proper case management at facility and community level;
• prevention and management of HIV infection, including cotrimoxazole preventive therapy.

“Priority should be given to applying the strategies in countries with the highest rates of under five mortality and deaths due to childhood pneumonia,” said Salama.

WHO, UNICEF and other organizations and initiatives have proposed a Global Action Plan for Pneumonia (GAPP) in order to increase awareness of the disease, to call for the scaling up of the use of the interventions of proven benefit and to develop a comprehensive plan to achieve this.

About UNICEF

UNICEF is on the ground in over 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.


For further information, please contact:

Brian Hansford, UNICEF Media NY, +1 212 326 7269, bhansford@unicef.org

Kate Donovan,  UNICEF Media NY, +1 212 326 7452, Kdonovan@unicef.org


 

 

 

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