The WHO has recently released figures surrounding the global disease burden of pneumococcal disease and Hib, two of the leading causes of pneumonia which kills more children that AIDS, malaria and measles combined.
In 2000, 735,000 children under 5 died from pneumococcal disease which is an enormous number. There were an incredible 14.5 million cases globally.
This disease causes meningitis, pneumonia, sepsis and inner ear infections. These diseases lead to disability and death. Tragically, it is entirely preventable by vaccination.
According to the press release posted on PneumoADIP’s website, “the ten countries with the greatest number and greatest proportion of global pneumococcal cases were in Asia and Africa, and taken together account
for 66% of cases worldwide. These countries include India (27%), China (12%), Nigeria (5%), Pakistan (5%), Bangladesh (4%), Indonesia (3%), Ethiopia (3%), Democratic Republic of the Congo (3%), Kenya (2%) and the Philippines (2%).”
Hib, another disease that is almost completely preventable, yet in 2000, there were 363,000 deaths and 8.1 million cases.
The work of PneumoADIP, the Hib Initiative, the WHO, the GAVI Alliance and UNICEF to name but a few players has been phenomenal. Their work to get the developing world access to vaccines against this disease, in particular through the Advanced Market Commitment, has been phenomenal. Likewise, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Pneumococcal Disease Prevention in the Developing World which I am involved with as secretariat has made enormous strides lifting the profile of this disease in the UK and overseas.
These figures will enable governments, for the first time, to have accurate figures actually detailing the scale of the problem. A significant reason why more hasn’t as yet been done was simply because there wasn’t enough awareness surrounding the disease and there were no accurate figures to ascertain the true breadth of the problem. However, nations will now understand the scope of the problem and be able to do something about it. These figures could make a world of difference and hopefully, it will.