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By 2030, pneumonia will kill 11 million more children unless the world takes decisive action now

Arabella Moore

Today is World Pneumonia Day. A day to recognise the 800,000 children that die each year from a disease that is preventable and easily treatable. A day to call attention for a concerted, multi-sector effort to bring down the number of child deaths every day.

As healthcare communicators, we know there is a level of fatigue with world awareness days. The space is so crowded, there are so many pressing and devastating issues, and in our ever-evolving digital society, it is difficult to cut through all the noise.

But World Pneumonia Day is an important one. Pneumonia is an indicator of poverty and weak health systems. Of inequality. It is the poorest children who are most at risk. These children are more likely to be malnourished and experience bad sanitation and indoor air pollution. Every 39 seconds a child dies of pneumonia globally. A travesty when you consider that almost all the fatalities are readily preventable through vaccination and treatable with low-cost antibiotics and oxygen.

This year, MHP was appointed as communications partner for Every Breath Counts Coalition, the world’s first public-private partnership to support national governments to end preventable child pneumonia deaths by 2030.

Our challenge today is to find a way to engage the public in a disease that is neglected and unrecognised. Levels of awareness of childhood pneumonia are unacceptably low; it simply hasn’t received the same level of attention as higher profile infectious diseases, and therefore lacks the momentum across all sectors of society to fuel the response that is so desperately needed.

At MHP, we view the interconnectivity of today’s society as a huge opportunity to channel awareness and mobilise the public. In this networked age, the world is becoming a single global village – one that we are only just beginning to harness fully to call attention to the issues, services, products, ambitions of our clients. So we’ve been thinking about how to help the Every Breath Counts Coalition put childhood pneumonia on the digital map.

One example is our push today to highlight the continually rising death toll. A 24-hour Twitter livestream will be broadcast throughout the day, demonstrating the shocking mortality statistics from childhood pneumonia around the world with a real-time counter that will increase by one every 39 seconds.

By the end of today, that counter will have clocked up to 2,215.

We will maintain a digital pulse of childhood pneumonia content in the lead up to the first Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia in January next year – a major opportunity to ensure that pneumonia is at the forefront of health agendas and galvanise national action.

By 2030, pneumonia will kill 11 million more children unless the world takes decisive action now. Like our partner Every Breath Counts, we are convinced that a breakthrough on pneumonia is within reach.

Please join us in driving awareness of the campaign: Visit the Every Breath Counts website, follow them on Twitter and spread the word – #StopPneumonia #EveryBreathCounts.