Child Mortality: Pneumonia

Sohail Mohammed
9 min readFeb 18, 2021

Background on Pneumonia Mortality

15% of all child deaths in 2017 were caused by pneumonia. In 1990, this number was more than 2 million. But in 2017, this number has fallen more than 66%. The major contributors to childhood pneumonia are childhood wasting (chronic malnutrition), air pollution, poor sanitation, and poverty. But there have been developments in vaccines and antibiotics allowing them to be cheaper and more accessible.

Some of the most impacted areas from pneumonia are Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast-Asia. Pneumonia is often called “a disease of poverty”. The poorest and least fortunate children are often the most who are at risk.

By 2030, pneumonia is predicted to kill almost 6 million more children, unless action is taken.

Intro to Pneumonia

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Pneumonia can come from a multitude of different pathological agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Initially, these pathogens will infect the upper respiratory tract. But once this is compromised, the pathogens will move towards the lower respiratory tract, leading to pneumonia. The majority of infections are due to two main types of bacteria.

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae — gram-positive spherical bacteria
  • Haemophilus influenzae — gram-negative bacteria are also known to cause flu-like symptoms, but are not the flu.

Pneumonia is essentially an infection of the air sacs of the lungs, called alveoli. Someone infected with pneumonia will have alveoli that are filled with pus and fluid. This can lead to difficulty in breathing and oxygen intake.

The best method of diagnosis is using radiological imaging with a physician, but this can be expensive and is not feasible for larger studies and in poor regions of the world. The definition of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the diagnosis of pneumonia is based on symptoms. Fast breathing and coughing.

There are two main ways that pneumonia can be treated.

  • Antibiotics
  • Vaccines