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Fighting for Breath Report

Created Feb 28 2018, 11:00 AM by Sarah Elizabeth Hillware
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Dear ECCH CoP Members,


I wanted to flag this report I received about childhood pneumonia, published by Save the Children. Page 18-21 discussed the household air pollution risk factors, which may be of interest to many of you.


The most interesting point made was that young children breathe twice as quickly as adults and their respiratory tracts are more permeable, so they take in more air relative to their body weight.


I would be interested to hear feedback from health and environment colleagues and others on any existing programs linking ECCH interventions to pneumonia. Siân Williams Yekbun Gurgoz Frederik van Gemert Jessica Lewis




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    Thanks a lot, Sarah. I'll have a good look at it. They emphasize a lot on vaccination. Unfortunately, pneumonia also has a association with poverty, so we're talking about household air pollution, ambient pollution, pre-term births, low birth weight, malnutrition, untreated asthma, poor living conditions and water supply/sanitation, among others. This makes it very complex.

    By the way, did you see the UNICEF report "Clear the air for Children""? It's from 2016, but it give a great overview of the impact of air pollution on children.

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    Dear all - thank you for flagging this. It's a good report.  I'm in contact with one of the reviewers on another project, and he thinks it's a good overview. 


    It's not just childhood pneumonia in terms of health risk of air pollution and it probably doesn't make sense to single out one, albeit devastating, disease.  We need a systemic approach.


    There is increasing evidence of air pollution impact on respiratory health and early lung development both in terms as described here: increasing risk of pneumonia but also of susceptibility to chronic lung disease and flare-ups of chronic disease that require emergency treatment (and there's also evidence about other chronic diseases too).   We have 8 abstracts on children presenting to a global primary care audience at our conference 31 May - 2 June 2018:     Part of the challenge is diagnosis.    Is it an infection or is it a chronic disease - the cause may be air pollution (indoor and/or outdoor) in both cases, and whilst preventive measures may be similar,  treatment will be different.


    What's clear is that we need coordinated action on:

    • Access to cleaner fuels
    • Better ventilation and better stoves
    • Education - particularly for mothers and the health workforce (volunteer and professional)
    • Better access to preventive measures: tobacco dependence treatment and vaccinations (pneumonia)
    • Better access to effective treatments


    We are currently trying to develop a campaign on improving children's outcomes with asthma (which will inevitably look at pollution, so let me know if you'd like to get involved).


    More on our programme FRESH AIR here

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