Pneumonia claimed the lives of more than 12,000 children under the age of five in 2018, which is more than one child every hour
In Bangladesh, pneumonia claimed the lives of more than 12,000 children under the age of five last year, which is more than one child every hour, UN children's agency Unicef said in a report released on World Pneumonia Day on Tuesday.
According to the report, in Bangladesh 13 percent of child deaths occurred due to pneumonia in 2018. In terms of Pneumonia infant mortality, Bangladesh ranks 14th in the world.
Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi, and leaves children fighting for breath as their lungs fill with pus and fluid.
The Unicef report said pneumonia claimed the lives of more than 800,000 children under the age of five last year, or one child every 39 seconds globally.
Most deaths occurred among children under the age of two, and almost 153,000 within the first month of life.
According to the report, five countries were responsible for more than half of child pneumonia deaths: Nigeria (162,000), India (127,000), Pakistan (58,000), the Democratic Republic of Congo (40,000) and Ethiopia (32,000).
India has the highest infant mortality rate with pneumonia among Asian countries. Pakistan remains after India. Last year, 58 thousand children under the age of five died from pneumonia in Pakistan.
"Every day, nearly 2,200 children under the age of five die from pneumonia, a curable and mostly preventable disease. Strong global commitment and increased investments are critical to the fight against this disease," said Henrietta Fore, executive director of Unicef.
"Only through cost-effective protective, preventative and treatment interventions delivered to where children are will we be able to truly save millions of lives," she added.
Kevin Watkins, chief executive of Save the Children said, "This is a forgotten global health epidemic that demands a greater international response. Millions of children are dying for want of vaccines, affordable antibiotics, and routine oxygen treatment. The pneumonia crisis is a symptom of neglect and indefensible inequalities in access to health care."
The report said children with immune systems weakened by other infections like HIV or by malnutrition, and those living in areas with high levels of air pollution and unsafe water, are at far greater risk.
The disease can be prevented with vaccines, and easily treated with low-cost antibiotics if properly diagnosed.
But tens of millions of children are still going unvaccinated – and one in three with symptoms do not receive essential medical care.
Funding available to tackle pneumonia lags far behind other diseases. Only 3 percent of current global infectious disease research spending is allocated to pneumonia, despite the disease causing 15 percent of deaths in children under the age of five.