Pneumonia is a respiratory infection that affects the lungs. The viruses and bacteria that cause the disease are spread through airborne droplets from a cough or sneeze. An infection can cause the lungs to fill with pus and fluid, making breathing and oxygen intake difficult.
And while anyone can get pneumonia, children with weakened immune systems or underlying illnesses are more susceptible. That’s why, pneumonia kills more than a million children every year across the world.
There have been some critical advances in preventing and treating the disease. These include vaccines, antibiotics and providing supplemental oxygen. In 2009, South Africa became the first African country to include the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in its routine infant immunisation programme. By 2012 an estimated 81% of one-year-old babies had received three doses of the vaccine.
South Africa has also reduced its pneumonia burden through the mass roll-out of antiretroviral therapy a