World Pneumonia Day
The fight to reduce deaths from the single, biggest infectious killer of adults and children has never been more urgent.
Pneumonia claimed the lives of 2.5 million, including 672,000 children, in 2019 alone. The combined effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and conflict is fuelling a pneumonia crisis across the life course – placing millions more at risk of infection and death. In 2021, the estimated burden of deaths from respiratory infections, including COVID-19, is a massive 6 million.
But it is the very young and the very old who are at the greatest risk.
Children living in areas with declining vaccination rates, rising malnutrition due to food shortages, and homes that use polluting fuels for cooking and heating are particularly vulnerable. UNICEF has predicted an explosion in child deaths if urgent action is not taken to reach these children, including oxygen and antibiotics.
Older adults exposed to air pollution – most significantly from burning fossil fuels – and smoking are also at risk. Almost half of the estimated 1.6 million pneumonia deaths among adults aged over 50 are attributable to air pollution and smoking.