Pneumonia Day 2015 in DRC: Make Every Breath Count

Pneumonia Day 2015 in DRC: Make Every Breath Count

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Photo credit: Warren Zelman

Despite improvements in child survival in recent decades, children in low- and middle-income countries still suffer from illnesses virtually nonexistent in the industrial world.

Pneumonia is the deadliest of these, responsible for the death of 900,000 children under five worldwide in 2013—more than any other infectious disease.

And more children are killed by pneumonia in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) than in any other country except for India and Nigeria. Every year, approximately 148,000 children under five die of pneumonia, accounting for 15 percent of child deaths in the country.

While overall child mortality in DRC has decreased over the last few years, it falls short of the millennium development goal target of 62 deaths per 1,000 live births. Only 42 percent of children with suspected pneumonia receive antibiotic treatment. Though simple low cost measures to treat pneumonia are available in the country, they are not accessible to many of the children who need them.

Over the last few years, the country's Ministry of Health, with support from partners including MSH, has made huge progress in prevention and treatment of pneumonia. Improvements include implementing community case management, educating community members to recognize danger signs and seek care quickly, educating families on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, supporting immunization, implementing initiatives with clean stoves, and updating standard treatment guidelines and the essential medicines list to reflect the recent recommendations for pneumonia treatment from the World Health Organization (WHO).

On November 12, World Pneumonia Day, the DRC Ministry of Health has organized a National Pneumonia Day to raise awareness about the disease, its prevention, and how to manage it correctly. With the theme "Push the Pace," the day's goal is to promote key preventive practices and encourage communities to seek care from appropriately trained providers. This effort is supported by USAID through the Integrated Health Project Plus (IHPplus) and the SIAPS program, UNICEF, and other partners,

Specifically, National Pneumonia Day aims to:

  1. Disseminate pneumonia treatment protocols to health care providers, promoting case management according to the newly-revised standard treatment guidelines.
  2. Sensitize the population, through media campaigns, on the importance of care seeking and early treatment.
  3. Orient religious leaders, community-based organizations, and community health workers to promote early care seeking at health facilities and with trained health care workers.

Through these innovative activities to "push the pace" for the prevention and management of pneumonia, the DRC Ministry of Health and its partners hope to end preventable deaths due to the disease, and make every breath count.

Watch this space to follow activities in DRC for World Pneumonia Day. Join the conversation on social media: .