Pneumonia is the single biggest killer of children under the age of five, claiming the lives of more than 800,000 children in a year, or 1 child every 39 seconds. Every year, 4.2 million children are suffering from severe pneumonia in low and middle income countries.

Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi, and leaves children fighting for breath as their lungs fill with fluid. The COVID-19 pandemic is adding to the already stiff challenges these children face, in particular for those living in developing countries where fragile health systems are growing even weaker. 

Since last year, Save the Children Hong Kong has been supporting programmes in Bangladesh and Indonesia to tackle pneumonia in children. These two countries are among the top 15 countries in the world that account for 70% of pneumonia deaths for children under the age of five in 2018. They are also among the hardest hit by COVID-19 in Asia. Despite all the challenges, we managed to provide much-needed on-the-ground assistance to pneumococcal vaccination programmes, train health workers, and conduct behavioural change and information campaigns, to raise public awareness and promote appropriate health practices within these communities.

“Pneumonia is preventable and treatable. The fact that it remains the number one killer of children under five is shocking. I am pleased to champion this cause,” said Cathy Lee, Patron of Save the Children Hong Kong. “November 12 is World Pneumonia Day. As the world continues to focus on responding to COVID-19, let’s NOT forget about children in the fight against pneumonia. Together, we have the power to save many more children’s lives from this tragic – and often silent – killer.”

“Save the Children recognises that the threat of pneumonia for deprived children requires more attention and action than just one day. We are on the ground, working to prevent and treat pneumonia in children worldwide,” said Carol Szeto, CEO of Save the Children Hong Kong. “In the past year, we have seen what the world can do when it rallies to help people with COVID-19 fighting for their lives. Now is the time to do the same for children fighting for breath.”