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Pneumonia: Child Survival after the Pandemic

Foro Global contra la Neumonia Infantil
Photo: Israel González / ”la Caixa” Foundation - 2nd Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia. CaixaForum Madrid. April 2023.

The commitments made at the 1st Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia (2020) were difficult to meet: the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. The second edition of the Forum addressed the new context.


There are striking coincidences. The first edition of the Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia was held in Barcelona in early 2020. At the same time, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a "public health emergency of international concern". The second edition was held in Madrid on 26-27 April 2023, a few days before the WHO declared the emergency over on 5 May. This correlation in dates adds to the fact that COVID-19 also includes severe pneumonia as a cause of death, in this case in the elderly.

All this makes for uncomfortable reading. Although the COVID-19 pandemic did not pose a direct epidemiological threat to the health of the child population, it was the biggest setback in three decades in the immunisation of children under five. The progress made in this public health intervention has brought humanity closer to achieving the child survival targets set in the successive Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals. The latter, which are still in force, aim to end preventable deaths by 2030. Even before COVID-19, it was clear that efforts to achieve this goal needed to be accelerated.


Khadidja Amadeye Abgrene speaking at the 2nd Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia. CaixaForum Madrid. April 2023. Photo: Israel González / ”la Caixa” Foundation.


The first Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia was born out of this need. A call to action focused on the leading killer of children under five, its final declaration identified six concrete lines of action to be pursued by the many and varied stakeholders involved. Despite efforts to implement the commitments made, the pandemic changed everything. The convening of the second edition of the Forum responded to the objective of renewing them in a new context decisively changed by the pandemic.

Worldwide, a Child Dies of Pneumonia Every 42 Seconds

Today, 700,000 children still die from pneumonia every year - 2,000 deaths a day that could be prevented through interventions such as immunisation and equitable access to basic health services, as well as those that address other risk factors such as malnutrition, pollution and lack of water, sanitation and hygiene.


2nd Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia. CaixaForum Madrid. April 2023. Photo: Israel González / ”la Caixa” Foundation.


To address this reality and renew the commitment to child survival beyond the pandemic, this second edition of the Forum has deepened its focus.

  1. The goal of reducing child mortality from pneumonia has been focused on 14 countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea Conakry, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Mali, Mozambique, Peru, Somalia, Sierra Leone and South Sudan.
  2. In addition to the commitments made by the governments of these countries, there are those of the official development aid donor countries (including Spain) and various organisations, institutions and companies. The various public and private actors invited to this global call have given shape to the 37 commitments announced during the Forum and included in its final declaration.

Standing in the Trenches of Science

Our commitment at ISGlobal as an institution is to "stand firm in the trenches of science" to end preventable deaths from childhood pneumonia. We are committed to continuing research into the causes of childhood pneumonia in low- and middle-income countries to ensure that this research leads to more effective prevention and treatment strategies. We are also committed to working at the forefront of science to deliver the next generation of vaccines, diagnostics and treatments for childhood pneumonia. Finally, we are committed to doing this in partnership with the many and varied stakeholders represented at the Forum. We are united by a noble ambition to contribute to child survival by joining forces to end preventable deaths from pneumonia.