Pneumonia kills nearly 1 million children under the age of five globally every year. More children die from pneumonia than from HIV/AIDS and malaria combined. Progress in the fight against pneumonia has been slow compared to progress in other leading diseases. Over the past 15 years, childhood pneumonia deaths have fallen by 50%. While this signifies impressive progress, it still falls short in comparison to an 85% decline for measles, and 60% for malaria, AIDS and tetanus over the same time period. The issue is partly one of financing relative to disease burden. For every global health dollar spent in 2011, only 2 cents went to pneumonia.

Every Breath Counts campaign was globally launched, during the Organisation for African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) General Assembly held on January 31, 2016 at the African Union. On behalf of H.E. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, Wife of the President of Nigeria, Mrs. Toyin Saraki introduced the Every Breath Counts campaign while highlighting the disproportionate burden that pneumonia plays on children compared to the investment in pneumonia prevention or treatment. Furthermore, she encouraged all first ladies to engage in the campaign to raise awareness for pneumonia in their respective countries. H.E. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, appears in the first of a series of PSAs that raises awareness on the burden and prevalence of pneumonia.  

Every Breath Counts Platform 

Despite the existence of effective tools to prevent, diagnose and treat pneumonia, most of the countries struggling with high rates of pneumonia-related deaths allocate a tiny portion of their health budgets to fighting child pneumonia. For example, antibiotic treatment costs less than 50 US cents per child, and oxygen therapy costs less than $20 US per child, yet in most of the countries with the highest burdens of pneumonia only a minority of children with severe pneumonia ever receive antibiotics or oxygen therapy.

Without specific, concerted action on pneumonia, the world cannot achieve its ambitious new global goal to end preventable child deaths by 2030 - a goal which the governments of all 193 UN member states have endorsed and are now accountable for achieving. Similarly, the inspiring vision of the Global Action Plan for the Integrated Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD) and the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health will remain unrealized without a specific focus on reducing child pneumonia.


To accelerate progress towards the new global goal* to end preventable child deaths, UNICEF, with funding in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UN Commission on Lifesaving Commodities, worked with Speak Up Africa to launch a new global health Campaign, Every Breath Counts (EBC), to raise awareness about, and spur investment in, child pneumonia prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

The Campaign was launched in January 2016 at the Organisation for African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) General Assembly at the African Union. Her Excellency, Toyin Saraki, officially launched the campaign on behalf of Her Excellency, Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, Wife of the President of Nigeria, who is the Every Breath Counts Pioneering Champion. A 60-second PSA featuring Buhari was screened and has already reached 95,000 people, prompting 3,000 to take action.


To ensure the continued success of the Campaign, UNICEF, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), WHO and Speak Up Africa are creating an Every Breath Counts (EBC) platform, which will mobilize an unprecedented number of partners from a variety of sectors, disciplines and movements to invest more in the fight against childhood pneumonia. 

Leaders from such diverse sectors as household air pollution, sustainable energy, climate change, education, nutrition, WASH, immunization and child health will combine their respective advocacy, policy development, program delivery and financing assets to dramatically increase access to pneumonia-fighting interventions among the most-affected populations.

Strategic Mobilization

The Every Breath Counts will leverage the highest-impact health and development platforms (e.g. Every Woman, Every Child movement, Global Financing Facility, Gavi, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria) and communications opportunities (e.g. World Pneumonia Day), to promote awareness about the burden of child pneumonia and to mobilize governments, the private sector and civil society to work together to increase investment to the levels required so that every child, everywhere, has access to the most effective tools to prevent, diagnose and treat childhood pneumonia.  EBC will bring together high-level representatives from both the public and private sectors in the fields of climate change; sustainable energy; education; nutrition; sanitation; immunization; and public health, aligning the protection, prevention, diagnostic and treatment communities for the first time. The platform will leverage their broad bases of support to increase investments in pneumonia protection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The platform will also explore new sources of financing at the global and national levels.

This effort is a global pneumonia awareness campaigns that seeks to mobilize you, as first ladies and leaders in each of your countries as pneumonia advocates.
— Toyin Saraki, Founder of the Wellbeing Foundation


To accelerate the reduction in child pneumonia deaths required to achieve the global goals, partners will continue to identify and mobilize key influencers to capture the attention of global and national decision makers. The EBC platform will target influencers from various sectors: government, business, civil society, religious, sports leaders and celebrity artists to ensure comprehensive message infiltration. By engaging influencers from every segment of society, the platform will support the wider Campaign effort to surround individuals and organizations with important messages designed to catalyze individual and collective action on pneumonia.


Country Highlight: Pneumonia Month in Nigeria

This year, SUA  dedicated the whole month of November to creating awareness about the disease. The campaign featured influencers that are recognized nationally and have a particularly strong influence in the north. As the burden and mortality is the highest in the north, Every Breath Counts has recruited 3 famous Kannywood celebrities: Hadiza Ali Nuhu, and Rahma Sadu. We have produced a series of TV/Radio PSAs and will be aired from November 2016–January 2017.


From left to right: Hadiza Gabon, Ali Nuhu, and Rahama Sadau


Learn More

Diarrhea and Pneumonia Progress Report

Pushing the Pace: Progress and Challenges on Fighting Childhood Pneumonia

More information, including job aids for community workers and information for health advocates, can be found on the campaign website, or contact Roxanne O'Connell at