Pneumonia claimed the lives of more than 800,000 children under the age of five last year, or one child every 39 seconds, according to the UN’s children agency. “Every day, nearly 2,200 children under the age of five die from pneumonia, a curable and mostly preventable disease. Strong global commitment and increased investments are critical to the fight against this disease,” said Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF, in a report released on Monday.
Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi, and leaves children fighting for breath as their lungs fill with pus and fluid, according to UNICEF.
“Just five countries were responsible for more than half of child pneumonia deaths: Nigeria (162,000), India (127,000), Pakistan (58,000), the Democratic Republic of Congo (40,000) and Ethiopia (32,000),” the report said.
Most of the children’s deaths took place under the age of two, while about 153,000 of the children died during their first month, it said.
“The disease can be prevented with vaccines, and easily treated with low-cost antibiotics if properly diagnosed,” the report added.