START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
2,460,154 people care about Human Rights

Respiratory Infections are Top Killer of Children Under Five

Respiratory Infections are Top Killer of Children Under Five

Acute respiratory infections are the leading killer of children under five years old, according to a new report published by the World Lung Foundation. Contrary to public perception, pneumonia kills more children than malaria or AIDs. 

Pneumonia accounted for 20 percent of child deaths around the world, or 1.6 million deaths in 2008, says the report, released on November 9. In comparison, 732,000 children died from malaria and 200,000 from AIDS.

The study, called the Acute Respiratory Infections Atlas, found that 4.25 million people die annually from respiratory infections that cause pneumonia.

Despite the high number of deaths from respiratory infections, “the global health community does not even recognize them as a distinct disease group,” said Peter Baldini, chief executive officer of the World Lung Foundation.  “With relatively modest resources, the means are available to save millions of lives. We simply need commitment, sound policy, and strategic investment,” Baldini said.

The report, as summarized by Reuters, also found that the death rate from pneumonia is 215 times higher in low-income than in high-income countries. Indeed, 97 percent of the 156 million new cases of pneumonia every year are in developing countries.

Treatment Is Inexpensive and Effective

According to the World Lung Foundation, a course of antibiotics to treat bacterial causes of pneumonia costs only 27 cents. Administering antibiotics to all children who need them could save as many as 600,000 lives a year.

Indoor air pollution from cooking stoves, fires, and secondhand cigarette smoke–a rarely mentioned cause of respiratory death–kills 1.96 million people a year who contract infections from these sources, according to the report.

SOS Children’s Villages saves lives by providing medical treatment such as antibiotics to the 73,000 children under its care and to local families in need. Learn more about issues affecting orphaned and abandoned children worldwide at


Read more: , , , , , , , , ,

photo credit: thanks to Adam Jones, Ph.D. via flickr
By Kyna Rubin, SOS Children's Villages

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it


+ add your own
10:25AM PST on Dec 13, 2010

Thanks for the article. Antibiotics should be available EVERYWHERE.

10:37AM PST on Nov 28, 2010


10:51PM PST on Nov 27, 2010

thanx for the information

8:37AM PST on Nov 20, 2010

Not only indoor air-pollution but also the outdoor pollution resulting from the widespread use of fossil fuels contributes to respiratory diseases. The world is in dire need of thorough cleaning.

11:54PM PST on Nov 19, 2010

very sad

11:34PM PST on Nov 18, 2010

Even knowing this, we still charge how much in this country for antibiotics, and then we still use things that can cause lung disease such as coal powered energy and such?

12:42PM PST on Nov 18, 2010

Thank you for bringing article to the front and letting us know.

5:42AM PST on Nov 18, 2010

The Child Health Site:

10:09AM PST on Nov 17, 2010

Has anyone started a petition for this??

8:29AM PST on Nov 17, 2010

Signing & quoting ana p.

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

The children should be prepared for Natural Disasters and the families shoud be prepared to help their…

meet our writers

Kathleen J. Kathleen is currently the Activism Coordinator at Care2. more
ads keep care2 free

Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!