Progress in Fighting Pneumonia

Good, basic, medical care will save kids’ lives. We knew that already, but an exciting new study in The Lancet makes it extremely clear. According to a new study conducted by Save the Children, “Children treated at home for severe pneumonia by Pakistan’s “Lady Health Workers” were more likely to recover than children referred to health facilities.”

Pneumonia is the biggest killer of children, and we’ve got a low-cost way to fight it. 1.4 million children under age 5 die every year from pneumonia, the vast majority in the developing world. Finding an effective way to save those children is fantastic news for global health.

It’s especially interesting because of home-care approach. We’ve seen a shift in health care from looking at expensive facilities and equipment to more community based approaches. This is a validation of that focus. Pneumonia was long seen as an illness that mandated hospital care which is expensive for both the health system and the patients who encounter it. Hospital care also carries a risk of getting a secondary infection from someone else in the hospital.

Community based care, on the other hand, is affordable for patients, their family, and the health systems of developing countries. And training parents and community health workers not only benefits children with pneumonia, it also developed community capacity to support health beyond just pneumonia.