Childhood deaths from two leading bacterial causes of pneumonia and meningitis, pneumococcus and Hib, declined sharply during the period 2000 to 2015, especially as vaccines against these pathogens were introduced in high-burden countries, according to new estimates from a team led by scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The findings, published in The Lancet Global Health on June 11, highlight the success of the global fight against these illnesses, and also provide a clear picture of the remaining disease burden, now largely concentrated in South Asia and Africa.
“Further progress against these diseases will depend on efforts in a few large countries,” says study lead author Dr. Brian Wahl, an assistant scientist at the International Vaccine Access Center in the Bloomberg School’s department of international health. “These bacteria still cause far too many child deaths.”
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) are bacteria that can cause meningitis, pneumonia, sepsis and other serious complications, especially in children. They have been major causes of child mortality in developing countries. Estimates for the year 2000 showed about 2.1 million severe infections and 299,000 child deaths from Hib, and 6.6 million severe infections and 600,000 child deaths from pneumococcus — not including cases of opportunistic infection in children with HIV.