Pneumonia accounts for 14 percent of deaths in children under 5 years old, killing 740,180 in 2019 alone. It is the largest infectious cause of death in children worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Friday.
Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi, leaving patients fighting for breath as their lungs fill with pus and fluid.
Autumn and winter are the peak periods for various respiratory diseases. As the most common complication of flu and cold, pneumonia is often the manifestation of illness aggravation.
Children with compromised immune systems are at higher risk for pneumonia. A child's immune system may be weakened by malnutrition or undernourishment.
Factors like indoor air pollution caused by cooking and heating with biomass fuels, smoking and living in crowded homes also increase susceptibility to the disease.
Pneumonia can be prevented and treated.
Reducing household air pollution, maintaining good hygiene, washing hands with soap and getting vaccinations can help reduce the risk of infection.
Adequate nutrition is vital in improving children's natural defenses: the WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and adequate complementary feeding.
However, malnutrition has increased amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022 released by the United Nations.
The report said that 22 percent of children under the age of 5 worldwide suffered from stunting, a 2.4 percent decrease from 2015. But "subsequent years have seen continued constraints in accessing nutritious food and essential nutrition services due to the pandemic," it added.
World Pneumonia Day was established in 2009 by a coalition of global health leaders to raise awareness of pneumonia and the importance of prevention and treatment of the disease.