GUEST BLOG: Fighting for Breath, Fighting for Change.

Today is World Pneumonia Day. CFID is pleased to host a guest blog from Save the Children talking about the importance of defeating this disease.

All photographs by Jonathan Hyams, Save the Children, Robert: Dr Moses Lobur checks Robert, nine months, at an outpatients clinic at a Save the Children-supported health centre. Robert was successfully treated for pneumonia.

Fighting for breath, fighting for change: how defeating the world’s deadliest disease will be a key milestone in the battle against global poverty

By Rachael Sweet, Senior Campaigns Advisor, Save the Children.

A disease borne of poverty is killing two children every minute. It’s preventable. It’s treatable. Yet it’s the biggest infectious killer of children under five. What is it? Pneumonia.

Pneumonia is a disease without a champion. Overlooked by global actors and national governments, inequality has allowed it to thrive. Deaths from pneumonia are falling more slowly than many other illnesses, and without urgent action we will not meet the ambition of the Sustainable Development Goals to eradicate preventable child deaths by 2030.

Almost a million children died from pneumonia last year. This Sunday is World Pneumonia Day, an opportunity to call for greater attention and action to address the root causes of this complex disease.

Tackling pneumonia requires strong healthcare systems, access to vaccines and tackling malnutrition the problem and its solutions is laid out in Save the Children’s new report: Fighting for Breath: a call to action on childhood pneumonia.

This is an area that the UK Government is already leading the way on. The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) is a global leader on improving health systems – and on incentivising countries to invest more in the health of their people – and in supporting the low-cost vaccines. Just last week, DFID announced a new package of support for children in Syria who are at greater risk of contracting this deadly disease as the hard, winter temperatures kicks in.

But saving lives from pneumonia is a cause that is crying out for a global champion. Its devastating effects have gone unchecked because the global community have not demanded action.

Because the UK Government is already a leader in Global Development they are uniquely well-placed to change this. This isn’t about more money. It is about using our global pulling power to end the single-biggest killer of children. If the UK Government were to bring together the people who can help solve this problem, such as other aid donors, British businesses and scientists, global policymakers and people and politicians from countries that are most affected by pneumonia, we could save a million lives over the next five years.

This is particularly important as we see questions persist about the use and purpose of overseas aid. Regular attacks in the press do not diminish the simple truth that UK aid is one of the most transparent and effective ways of tackling global poverty, and building a better world for all of us. A new, life-saving push on pneumonia is a straightforward way to demonstrate this and to silence these critics.

Incredible things happen when we work together. It’s how the world beat smallpox and polio – and it’s how we’ll beat pneumonia. UK aid is already a pioneer in bringing life-saving healthcare to some of the world’s poorest children. By ensuring aid reaches children who are most in need, strengthening healthcare systems and helping countries to stand on their own two feet we can work towards a world where pneumonia is no longer able to terrorise the world’s poorest children.

This World Pneumonia Day, please help us spread the word that we’re starting the fight against the world’s deadliest disease, to help the world’s poorest children who are fighting for breath.