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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 31  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 63-64

Addressing the public health concern of childhood pneumonia: Global perspective

Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication17-Jan-2017

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Thiruporur-Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4958.198470

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How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Addressing the public health concern of childhood pneumonia: Global perspective. J Med Soc 2017;31:63-4

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Addressing the public health concern of childhood pneumonia: Global perspective. J Med Soc [serial online] 2017 [cited 2022 May 19];31:63-4. Available from:


Globally, pneumonia has been acknowledged as the most frequent infectious cause of death among children, accounting for almost 0.9 million deaths in the under-five years age group in the year 2015 alone. [1] In fact, almost 15% of the overall deaths reported worldwide in the under-five children have been attributed to pneumonia. [1] Even though pneumonia has been universal in distribution, the maximum incidence of the disease has been observed in the South Asian and Sub-Saharan African regions. [1],[2]

Pneumonia generally results because of an infection with a wide range of microorganisms and is transmitted through variable modes (viz., airborne droplets, through blood, etc.) from one person to another. [1] However, the risk of acquiring the infection is greatly enhanced among children with a compromised immune system because of undernourishment or HIV/measles infection, absence of exclusive breastfeeding, and environmental attributes (such as indoor air pollution, overcrowding, and positive history of smoking among family members). [1],[2]

Although pneumonia or its associated complications are preventable, still the policy-makers have failed to address the issue effectively. [1] In fact, the bacterial origin pneumonia can be effectively managed with antibiotics; nevertheless, <33% of children actually receive the appropriate antibiotic. [2] This is probably because of the existence of various challenges such as excessive out-of-pocket expenditure on the management of illness, geographical disparity in the location of health-care establishments, sociocultural perceptions and gender dynamics, poor awareness among the community about the danger signs or range of services offered in health sector, and lack of sensitization of the outreach workers about their responsibilities to enable early detection and prompt treatment, most of which operate in combination in heterogeneous settings. [2],[3]

The most cost-effective way to decrease child mortality is through prevention of pneumonia by ensuring immunization of children against common infectious agents, by improving the nutrition and immune status, co-trimoxazole therapy to children infected with HIV, and by neutralizing the environmental determinants. [1],[2],[4] In short, a major proportion of pneumonia cases among children can be prevented or even managed with the help of cheap medications and standardized regimen of care at the level of community itself, even without hospitalization. [1] In addition, a recent mobile-based software has been developed to enable diagnosis and assist in the treatment of childhood pneumonia. [5]

Further, the World Health Organization and UNICEF have also advocated for a combination of interventions to protect (exclusive breastfeeding and adequate complementary feeding), prevent (vaccination, hand washing using soap, etc.), and treat pneumonia based on the severity of the disease in children. [1] In addition, some of the developing nations have developed strategies to be implemented at various levels to intensify and streamline actions for the control of pneumonia. [1] Finally, enhanced research activities can be carried out to understand the other pathogens and their modes of transmission so that prevention and treatment strategies can be effectively planned. [2],[4]

To conclude, in the global mission to reduce childhood deaths associated with pneumonia, there is an extensive need to engage all stakeholders and strengthen the health-care delivery system, especially at the primary level of health care.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

World Health Organization. Pneumonia - Fact Sheet No. 331; 2015. Available from: [Last accessed on 2015 Nov 19].  Back to cited text no. 1
World Health Organization. Ending Preventable Deaths from Pneumonia and Diarrhoea by 2025; 2013. Available from: [Last accessed on 2015 Nov 22].  Back to cited text no. 2
Bedford KJ, Sharkey AB. Local barriers and solutions to improve care-seeking for childhood pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria in Kenya, Nigeria and Niger: A qualitative study. PLoS One 2014;9:e100038.  Back to cited text no. 3
Thomas DS, Anthamatten P, Root ED, Lucero M, Nohynek H, Tallo V, et al. Disease mapping for informing targeted health interventions: Childhood pneumonia in Bohol, Philippines. Trop Med Int Health 2015;20:1525-33.  Back to cited text no. 4
Ginsburg AS, Delarosa J, Brunette W, Levari S, Sundt M, Larson C, et al. mPneumonia: Development of an innovative mHealth application for diagnosing and treating childhood pneumonia and other childhood illnesses in low-resource settings. PLoS One 2015;10:e0139625.  Back to cited text no. 5


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