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Estimating Pneumonia Deaths of Post-Neonatal Children in Countries of Low or No Death Certification in 2008
Published: Thursday, September 22, 2011
Author: Evropi Theodoratou et al.

by Evropi Theodoratou, Jian Shayne F. Zhang, Ivana Kolcic, Andrew M. Davis, Sunil Bhopal, Harish Nair, Kit Yee Chan, Li Liu, Hope Johnson, Igor Rudan, Harry Campbell


Pneumonia is the leading cause of child deaths globally. The aims of this study were to: a) estimate the number and global distribution of pneumonia deaths for children 1–59 months for 2008 for countries with low (<85%) or no coverage of death certification using single-cause regression models and b) compare these country estimates with recently published ones based on multi-cause regression models.

Methods and Findings

For 35 low child-mortality countries with <85% coverage of death certification, a regression model based on vital registration data of low child-mortality and >85% coverage of death certification countries was used. For 87 high child-mortality countries pneumonia death estimates were obtained by applying a regression model developed from published and unpublished verbal autopsy data from high child-mortality settings. The total number of 1–59 months pneumonia deaths for the year 2008 for these 122 countries was estimated to be 1.18 M (95% CI 0.77 M–1.80 M), which represented 23.27% (95% CI 17.15%–32.75%) of all 1–59 month child deaths. The country level estimation correlation coefficient between these two methods was 0.40.


Although the overall number of post-neonatal pneumonia deaths was similar irrespective to the method of estimation used, the country estimate correlation coefficient was low, and therefore country-specific estimates should be interpreted with caution. Pneumonia remains the leading cause of child deaths and is greatest in regions of poverty and high child-mortality. Despite the concerns about gender inequity linked with childhood mortality we could not estimate sex-specific pneumonia mortality rates due to the inadequate data. Life-saving interventions effective in preventing and treating pneumonia mortality exist but few children in high pneumonia disease burden regions are able to access them. To achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goal 4 target to reduce child deaths by two-thirds in year 2015 will require the scale-up of access to these effective pneumonia interventions.