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On World Pneumonia Day, PATH and our partners around the world are calling attention to a disease that kills more children before their fifth birthdays than any other disease worldwide. Few people are aware of how devastating pneumonia can be to families and communities. Although vaccines and antibiotics have been available and effective in preventing pneumonia in industrialized countries for years, two million young children—mostly in the developing world—die from this disease each year because they lack access to these lifesaving tools.

As other health challenges such as HIV/AIDS and malaria have gained momentum in global health and policy arenas, a similar pathway for pneumonia is needed to bring prevention and treatment solutions within reach for vulnerable populations. World Pneumonia Day is part of a larger call to policymakers and global health leaders to invest in the critical resources that can put an end to millions of needless pneumonia-related deaths. It is also a reminder that children in low-income countries require the global community’s help, every day, if they are to access the care they need.

PATH is working to speed the development of new vaccines against pneumonia that are affordable and effective for children in the developing world. We have advanced one vaccine candidate into clinical trials and are collaborating with several partners to study more candidates with the potential to ultimately lead to a vaccine that can protect the children who need it the most.

PATH is one of more than 50 organizations comprising the Global Coalition for Childhood Pneumonia in support of World Pneumonia Day.

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Posted November 2, 2009.