Despite the existence of effective tools to prevent, diagnose and treat pneumonia, most of the countries struggling with high rates of pneumonia-related deaths allocate a tiny portion of their health budgets to fighting child pneumonia. For example, antibiotic treatment costs less than 50 US cents per child, and oxygen therapy costs less than $20 US per child, yet in most of the countries with the highest burdens of pneumonia, only a minority of children with severe pneumonia ever receive antibiotics or oxygen therapy.
Without specific, concerted action on pneumonia, the world cannot achieve its ambitious new global goal to end preventable child deaths by 2030 – a goal which the governments of all 193 UN member states have endorsed and are now accountable for achieving. Similarly, the inspiring vision of the Global Action Plan for the Integrated Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD) and the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health will remain unrealized without a specific focus on reducing child pneumonia.
To accelerate progress towards the new global goal* to end preventable child deaths, UNICEF, with funding in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UN Commission on Lifesaving Commodities, worked with Speak Up Africa to launch a new global health Campaign, Every Breath Counts (EBC), to raise awareness about, and spur investment in, child pneumonia prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
The Campaign was launched in January 2016 at the Organisation for African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) General Assembly at the African Union. Her Excellency, Toyin Saraki, officially launched the campaign on behalf of Her Excellency, Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, Wife of the President of Nigeria, who is the Every Breath Counts Pioneering Champion. A 60-second PSA featuring Buhari was screened and has already reached 95,000 people, prompting 3,000 to take action.
To ensure the continued success of the Campaign, UNICEF, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), WHO and Speak Up Africa are creating an Every Breath Counts (EBC) Coalition, which will mobilize an unprecedented number of partners from a variety of sectors, disciplines and movements to invest more in the fight against childhood pneumonia.
Leaders from such diverse sectors as household air pollution, sustainable energy, climate change, education, nutrition, WASH, immunization and child health will combine their respective advocacy, policy development, program delivery and financing assets to dramatically increase access to pneumonia-fighting interventions among the most-affected populations.
The Every Breath Counts Coalition will leverage the highest-impact health and development platforms (e.g. Every Woman, Every Child movement, Global Financing Facility, Gavi, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria) and communications opportunities (e.g. World Pneumonia Day), to promote awareness about the burden of child pneumonia and to mobilize governments, the private sector and civil society to work together to increase investment to the levels required so that every child, everywhere, has access to the most effective tools to prevent, diagnose and treat childhood pneumonia.
The EBC Coalition will bring together high-level representatives from both the public and private sectors in the fields of climate change; sustainable energy; education; nutrition; sanitation; immunization; and public health, aligning the protection, prevention, diagnostic and treatment communities for the first time. The Coalition will leverage their broad bases of support to increase investments in pneumonia protection, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The Coalition will also explore new sources of financing at the global and national levels.
To accelerate the reduction in child pneumonia deaths required to achieve the global goals, partners will continue to identify and mobilize key influencers to capture the attention of global and national decision-makers. The EBC Coalition will target influencers from various sectors: government, business, civil society, religious, sports leaders and celebrity artists to ensure comprehensive message infiltration. By engaging influencers from every segment of society, the Coalition will support the wider Campaign effort to surround individuals and organizations with important messages designed to catalyze individual and collective action on pneumonia.
Government leaders will play an especially critical role as Pioneering Every Breath Counts Champions. The former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, His Excellency, Jakaya Kikwete, is already an influential ambassador for pneumonia prevention through immunization.
Another critical group of influencers is the African First Ladies, whose support as Global Child Health Ambassadors will have a powerful impact across African and global stages. At the launch of Every Breath Counts, several members of the Organisation of the African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA), expressed their interest in joining the Campaign.
Business engagement and collaboration is critical to drive innovation, facilitate access to vaccines, diagnostic tools, and medicines, and to reinforce social behavior change and demand creation. Leading multinational companies are already engaged in the development of vaccine, diagnostic and treatment and clean energy technologies, while others are testing new messages and methods to encourage healthcare workers, mothers and families to take the necessary actions to reduce the risk that a child will die from pneumonia.
Civil society organizations play a critical role in both advocacy and direct service delivery and can connect global campaigns like EBC with diverse constituencies at the global, regional, national and sub-national levels. By engaging the most powerful NGOs with a stake in child pneumonia from the
health and broader development communities, the EBC Coalition can reach a much wider audience.
The Every Breath Counts Coalition will also engage public figures such as musicians, actors/actresses, and athletes. Youssou N’Dour, one of the most popular singers in Senegal and across Africa, is passionate about health issues and has often shown his support to campaigns that support child health. By engaging popular sports and artistic celebrities, the Coalition will change the priority accorded to fighting pneumonia among mainstream actors.
By engaging such a diverse group of stakeholders and by connecting child pneumonia with the growing climate change, sustainable energy, and air pollution movements, the EBC Coalition will dramatically increase awareness beyond the public health community. This will provide innovative ways to engage the private sector and to catalyze further investment. This approach aligns with the design of the Sustainable Development Goals, which encourages collaborative, multi-sectoral approach to problem-solving.
The EBC Coalition will enable a diverse group of global and national partners to share best practices and provide mutual support across advocacy and programmatic issues. It is critical to connect global efforts to reduce child pneumonia deaths with regional and national initiatives.
Membership in the EBC Coalition will be open to all organizations and individuals with the capacity to accelerate reductions in child pneumonia deaths. Members will include, among many others, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), Gavi, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, the Malaria Consortium, PATH, the Pneumonia Innovations Team, Save the Children, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Wellcome Trust, the Wellbeing Foundation and World Vision.
The Coalition will be governed by a ten-member Board consisting of representatives of donor and country governments, UN agencies, multilateral agencies, NGOs, professional organizations, foundations and corporations. It will be co-chaired by UNICEF and a multilateral development organization and supported by a Secretariat managed by Speak Up Africa and UNICEF.