New Report Highlights Gains in Child Survival but Progress Needed to Address Leading Killers

The 2015 Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report: Sustainable Progress in the Post-2015 Era, released today on World Pneumonia Day by the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, documents the progress of the 15 countries experiencing the greatest burden of pneumonia and diarrhea.

Although global progress has been made toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals and reducing child deaths, in 2015 a projected 5.9 million children around the world will die before reaching their fifth birthday. Of these 5.9 million deaths, pneumonia was responsible for 16 percent and diarrhea was responsible for 9 percent, making them two of the leading killers of children worldwide. This report highlights the need for sustained efforts to decrease the global burden of pneumonia and diarrhea, especially in the 15 highest burden countries.

Progress in countries is evaluated through "Global Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD) intervention scores" a calculated average of coverage levels for the vital pneumonia and diarrhea interventions outlined in the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF's integrated GAPPD for which data are available, including vaccination, exclusive breastfeeding, access to care, and use of antibiotics, oral rehydration solution, and zinc.

"This World Pneumonia Day, we celebrate the progress made in preventing pneumonia and reducing child deaths around the world. This year's Pneumonia and Diarrhea Report demonstrates the need for sustainable progress as we move beyond 2015 toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. This means increasing equitable access to vaccines, diagnostic tools, and medication to prevent unnecessary pneumonia and diarrhea deaths," says Kate O'Brien, professor with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and executive director of IVAC.

Vaccine introductions and scale ups, promotion of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child's life, increasing access to appropriate pneumonia treatment, and ensuring sustainability for the post-2015 agenda are all required to put an end to these preventable diseases.

Key findings from this year's report:

• Overall GAPPD scores in 2015 varied widely from a low of 20 percent (Somalia) to a high of 72 percent (Tanzania), with all 15 focus countries falling below the 86 percen target for the overall GAPPD score.

• Rates of exclusive breastfeeding during a child's first six months of life remain low. Currently, 12 of the 15 countries with the most child pneumonia and diarrhea deaths have exclusive breastfeeding rates that still fall short of the 50 percent GAPPD target for this protective intervention.

• Currently, 3 of the 15 countries (Sudan, Bangladesh, and Tanzania) have met or exceeded the 90 percen GAPPD coverage target for Hib vaccination and several countries are relatively close to reaching the target, including Pakistan (73 percent), DRC (80 percent), Angola, (80 percent), Ethiopia (77 percent), and Afghanistan (75 percent). Still, many countries continue to have extremely low coverage, such as India (20 percent), Indonesia (21 percent), Somalia (42 percent), and Chad (46 percent).

• Fifteen years after PCV's first introduction in 2000, five of the highest burden countries (India, Indonesia, Chad, China, and Somalia) are still not using the vaccine in their routine immunization programs.

• Of the 10 GAPPD interventions evaluated in this report, pneumonia and diarrhea treatment tend to have the lowest coverage rates; some countries are not reporting any data at all, creating blind spots on progress and program performance.

• To meet the Strategic Development Goal 3.2 of ending preventable deaths of neonates and under-five children by the year 2030 and achieving high coverage of GAPPD interventions in places where the most children are dying of preventable causes is undoubtedly needed.

The 2015 Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report evaluates the progress of the 15 highest-burden countries based on latest child mortality estimates, in implementing high-impact interventions outlined in the Integrated Global Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea developed and issued by WHO and UNICEF with the goal of ending preventable pneumonia and diarrhea mortality in children by 2025.

Source: International Vaccine Access Center