About $39 billion is needed over the next six years in order to greatly reduce pneumonia deaths among children, United Nations officials said Monday, the first World Pneumonia Day.
Pneumonia kills more children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. UNICEF and the World Health Organization released a plan to save more than 5 million children from dying of pneumonia by 2015, the Associated Press reported.
Pneumonia accounts for about 20 percent of all child deaths worldwide every year, while AIDS causes about 2 percent of child deaths.
The new program features strategies ranging from vaccination to economic development efforts. There's a strong link between malnutrition and poverty and pneumonia deaths.
"This is very simply the biggest killer people never hear about," Orin Levine, a public health expert at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health, who has advised WHO and UNICEF, told the AP. But Levine added that "this is a big problem that can be solved."