Celebrating champions on the frontlines of the fight against a big, silent killer

Pneumonia kills 2.5 million  people every year – more than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined, according to the Global Burden of Disease, 2019. It targets the most vulnerable among us, including 672,000 children under five and 1.2 million adults aged over 70. But despite being the #1 infectious disease threat to our families, pneumonia has not been prioritized by governments, companies, or civil society.

Yet there are people who, year after year and decade after decade, are on the frontlines protecting children from pneumonia. They include:

  • Health workers who vaccinate children with the pneumonia-fighting vaccines and diagnose and treat the children who become ill with antibiotics, oxygen, and therapeutic foods;
  • Government employees who work tirelessly to motivate their own departments and political leaders to invest in pneumonia control;
  • Company employees who design new products and services and persuade their management to invest in them;
  • UN agency staff who mobilize the UN network to elevate  pneumonia on the global health agenda;
  • Academics who undertake the research necessary to shape public policies;
  • NGO staff who take the research and design and implement new programs that have greater impact; and
  • University students who innovate new products and spin-off start-ups to commercialize them.

Spread all over the world, and often unknown even to each other, these are the people you never hear about and yet so many lives depend on the progress they make, day after day, year after year. They are hidden heroes fighting a silent killer and on World Pneumonia Day (November 12th), JustActions is proud to recognize their work and thank them, and ask you to thank them too.

In 2019 for the first time we are celebrating women on the frontlines of the fight against pneumonia with an all-female line up of PneumoniaFighters! from the countries where large numbers of children are still dying from this preventable and treatable infection.

You should know their names. Here are the ten PneumoniaFighters! for 2019 (in alphabetical order):

(1) Adejumoke Ayede, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, (2) Kalpana Balakrishnan, Sri Ramachandra University, India, (3) Uzma Bashir, National Institute of Health, Pakistan (4)  Fatoumata Dicko-Traoré, CHI Gabriel Touré, Mali,  (5) Grace Irimu, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust, Kenya, (6) Eunice Machuka, Africa Biosciences, Kenya, (7)  Thi Kim Phuong Nguyen, Da Nang Hospital for Women & Children, Viet Nam, (8) Vanessa Rouzier, GHESKIO, Haiti, (9) Senjuti Saha, Child Health Research Foundation, Bangladesh, and (10) Mitike Molla Sisay, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.

You can find the PneumoniaFighters! on Twitter at #PneumoniaFighters.  Please thank them using their twitter handles and share their good work widely with your networks.