Major causes of child death highlighted in new reports

13 Nov 2017
Major causes of child death highlighted in new reports

Two leading infectious causes of child death, pneumococcal disease and group B streptococcal (GBS) disease, which are also major causes of meningitis, have been highlighted in new reports.

Save the Children reported this month that 1 million children each year are dying from pneumonia – the biggest infectious killer of children. The most common cause of pneumonia, pneumococcal disease, is also the most common cause of bacterial meningitis across the globe.

1 million children each year are dying from pneumonia

The report calls for greater action including cheaper vaccines to prevent pneumonia and more investment in immunisation – calls which align with our vision for a global plan to defeat meningitis.

In addition, the first comprehensive global estimation of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) infection suggests that it is responsible for 150,000 stillbirths and infant deaths worldwide every year.

GBS is a leading cause of meningitis and septicaemia in newborn babies in the UK and USA, yet until now, very little has been known about the burden of disease globally.

A maternal GBS vaccine ... could potentially prevent 231,000 infant and maternal GBS cases.

Although several vaccines to prevent GBS are in development, none are currently available. This analysis shows for the first time that a maternal GBS vaccine, which was 80% effective and reached 90% of women, could potentially prevent 231,000 infant and maternal GBS cases.

Both reports add to the argument that more needs to be done to defeat meningitis. A global plan to reduce meningitis would increase the impetus to tackle the major pathogens responsible for disease which includes pneumococcal and GBS disease.

The 2017 ‘Levels and Trends in Child Mortality’ United Nations report shows that meningitis and neonatal sepsis is the second largest infectious disease killer of children under 5 years of age. Meningitis and sepsis is also the leading killer of new born babies.

We’re urging people to contact the World Health Organisation by 15th November to make meningitis a priority in their next work plan here
 

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