The combination of high child malnutrition and household air pollution, with low vaccine coverage, breastfeeding rates, female literacy and poor access to health services, exposes these children to higher risks. Focused national and international efforts to identify and close gaps in pneumonia prevention, diagnosis and treatment in these countries could prevent more than 250,000 child deaths from pneumonia each year.
With the support of leaders such as the wife of the President of Nigeria, Her Excellency Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, and the founder of the African Wellbeing Foundation, Mrs. Toyin Saraki, we launched the campaign at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa.
We then rolled out EBC in Northern Nigeria (one of the hardest-hit in terms of childhood pneumonia deaths), and utilized popular actors to record PSAs about treatment and prevention. These PSAs were broadcast widely on traditional and social media. The campaign had a large reach, including 3 million Twitter reactions and 875,000 Facebook responses. More importantly, it fostered an environment for significant policy and behavior changes including a large uptick in visits to health clinics for pneumonia. This campaign played a role in precipitating national policy change to enable local dispensaries to provide Amoxicillin, making the treatment for pneumonia accessible even in the most remote areas of Nigeria.
The Every Breath Counts Coalition is a first-of-its kind partnership to support national governments to end preventable child pneumonia deaths by 2030, with a special focus on the countries with the largest populations of children under five at the greatest risk of death including Chad, Nigeria, Angola, Niger, Somalia, Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Ethiopia.
To help governments in these countries end preventable child pneumonia deaths by 2030, the Every Breath Counts Coalition will provide support to close critical gaps in pneumonia prevention, diagnosis and treatment. In some countries expanding pneumococcal vaccine coverage will be the top priority, while in others, improving access to proper diagnosis and treatment services with better tools like pulse oximetry and increased access to child-friendly antibiotics and oxygen will be key. Working more directly with mothers and families to improve breastfeeding rates, child nutrition, female literacy and to reduce household air pollution will boost progress across all countries.
The Access Challenge leads the Advocacy and Communications Working Group for the Coalition. Our role is to develop and execute advocacy programs that facilitate global and national resource mobilization, leadership and momentum building in combating child pneumonia. We are also designing EBC brand communications to ensure partner support and reputation building that position EBC as the leader in this cross-sector initiative in ending preventable child pneumonia deaths.