Integrated Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD) Released

For the very first time, there is a global plan to simultaneously tackle two of the leading killers of children: pneumonia and diarrhea. The Integrated Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD), released April 12 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, represents an integrated and intensified effort to reduce deaths and illnesses from these diseases and lays out a new framework for scaling up interventions to protect children, prevent disease and treat children who do become sick.

The GAPPD provides the most up-to-date strategies and evidence needed to significantly reduce childhood death and illness, and is designed to inform country policies and practices. National governments are expected to take the lead on implementation and to be accountable for progress. The plan’s integrated approach is designed to be far more effective and efficient than previous single disease focused approaches because many of the solutions needed to fight pneumonia and diarrhea are complementary.

The ROTA Council strongly supports the GAPPD, and our members offer the following statements:

Dr. Ciro A. de Quadros, Executive Vice President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Co-chair of the Rotavirus Organization of Technical Allies (ROTA) Council

“When taking on big challenges like ending pneumonia and diarrhea deaths in children, we must use every tool we have. By fighting pneumonia and diarrhea together with a comprehensive approach that includes vaccines—like rotavirus and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines—breastfeeding, good nutrition, access to safe drinking water, sanitation, better household air quality, oral rehydration therapy, zinc, antibiotics and oxygen, millions more lives can be saved.”

Dr. Mathuram Santosham, Professor of International Health and Pediatrics at the John Hopkins School of Public Health and co-chair of the ROTA Council

“Incredible progress has been made in recent years and millions of child deaths have been averted. But too many children are still dying from preventable diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea. We can change this by abandoning the old ‘either/or’ approach to saving child lives and improving their health. No more should we say, ‘pneumonia or diarrhea. Disease prevention or treatment.’ It is time for an ‘and’ approach to saving child lives, and the GAPPD provides a roadmap for doing just that using comprehensive strategies.”

Dr. George Armah, Senior Research Fellow and Associate Professor, University of Ghana, Ghana

“I have seen first-hand the devastation pneumonia and diarrhea have caused among Africa’s children and their families. As a researcher, I also know the transformative power of vaccines. In clinical study after clinical study, I’ve seen lives changed. We can shield our children from some of the deadliest threats they will face with just a few vaccine doses. By ensuring tools like vaccines reach every child who needs them as part of the full prevention and treatment continuum, we can rewrite history and make diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea a thing of the past. I’m proud of Ghana for leading our continent in implementing lifesaving solutions for our children. With the GAPPD, we now have the power to save so many more young lives.”

Dr. Shams El Arifeen, Director, Center for Child and Adolescent Health, ICDDR,B

“Given that ICDDR,B’s history is rooted in the discovery of oral rehydration solution and zinc in the treatment of diarrhea, it is very gratifying that there is global momentum behind scale-up of these essential interventions in saving the lives of children.”

Dr. Gagandeep Kang, Professor and Head, Wellcome Trust Research Laboratory, Division of Gastrointestinal Sciences, Christian Medical College, India

“Too many of our children are dying from diseases that can be prevented. Vaccines, exclusive breastfeeding, better nutrition, handwashing with soap, these are just a few of the tools we have at our disposal to protect children from pneumonia and diarrhea.”

Dr. Tony Nelson, Professor of Pediatrics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

“It is fascinating how we often fail to appreciate the value of some of life’s simplest things. The two leading causes of death and disease in children under 5 years of age will be tackled by The Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrheoa (GAPPD). This plan focuses on protection, prevention and treatment using very simple measures: exclusive breastfeeding, vaccines, vitamin A, zinc, oral rehydration solution, oxygen and antibiotics. These simple measures are highly cost-effective and potentially available to all children. Our complex challenge is to ensure that all mothers, fathers, grandparents, health professionals, communities and politicians value and implement these simple interventions.”

Dr. Oyewale Tomori, President, Nigerian Academy of Science, Nigeria

“The burden of pneumonia and diarrhea weighs heavily on the children of sub-Saharan Africa. We certainly can change this. We must support the countries and communities on the front lines, encouraging governments to meet the legitimate demands of the communities and ensure that the children with the greatest needs have access to lifesaving tools like rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccines.”