Published: 09-11-2019 09:59 | Updated: 11-11-2019 16:31

World Pneumonia Day 2019 – Research highlights

Two hands showing pulse oximetry tool to help improve pneumonia diagnosis.

Every year, almost 800 000 children die of pneumonia before the age of five; this is more than HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Therefore, if Sustainable Development Goal 3.2 – ending all preventable child deaths - is to be achieved, tackling the causes and improving the diagnosis and management of pneumonia must be a core strategy.

Mother with child in her arms and man with pneumonia diagnosis ustensil (pulse oximetry system) i sub-sahara Africa.

Yet, in spite of this high burden, pneumonia has recently been called a neglected disease of poverty, reflecting the lack of financial and political attention that this condition receives. 

Today, on the 10th annual World Pneumonia Day, the global health community aims to raise the profile of paediatric pneumonia, to ensure that it remains on the global agenda and commitments for action are taken. 

At the Department of Public Health Science, researchers in the Health Systems and Policy group are working on several approaches to improve pneumonia diagnosis and case management in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and also in Sweden. These are focused on the role of pulse oximetry, oxygen systems, automated respiratory rate timers and new point-of-care technology as tools to improve case management by different levels of healthcare providers. 

Kevin Baker was recently awarded his PhD in the assessment of different diagnostic aids for paediatric pneumonia in low-income settings, which triggered a global consultation on best-practice for evaluation methods hosted by UNICEF in New York.

Further Carina King, along with partners at Malaria Consortium, Johns Hopkins University and Oulu University, was awarded a grant from Vetenskapsrådet, the Swedish Research Council, to explore the role of real-time video assessments for pneumonia diagnosis using AI technology.

List of publications

Challenges in the diagnosis of paediatric pneumonia in intervention field trials: recommendations from a pneumonia field trial working group.
Goodman D, Crocker ME, Pervaiz F, McCollum ED, Steenland K, Simkovich SM, et al
Lancet Respir Med 2019 Oct;():

Trends in the global burden of paediatric lower respiratory infections.
King C, McCollum ED
Lancet Infect Dis 2019 Oct;():

Performance of a novel reusable pediatric pulse oximeter probe.
King C, Mvalo T, Sessions K, Wilson I, Walker I, Zadutsa B, et al
Pediatr. Pulmonol. 2019 Jul;54(7):1052-1059

Point‐of‐Care Pulse Oximetry for Children in Low‐Resource Settings
King C, Graham H, McCollum ED
In Revolutionizing Tropical Medicine: Point‐of‐Care Tests, New Imaging Technologies and Digital Health, ch. 21, 31 May 2019,

Pulse oximetry in paediatric primary care in low-income and middle-income countries.
McCollum ED, King C, Colbourn T, Graham H, Bernstein M, Wilson IH, et al
Lancet Respir Med 2019 Oct;():

Performance of Four Respiratory Rate Counters to Support Community Health Workers to Detect the Symptoms of Pneumonia in Children in Low Resource Settings: A Prospective, Multicentre, Hospital-Based, Single-Blinded, Comparative Trial.
Baker K, Alfvén T, Mucunguzi A, Wharton-Smith A, Dantzer E, Habte T, et al
EClinicalMedicine 2019 Jul;12():20-30

Placing children and adolescents at the centre of the Sustainable Development Goals will deliver for current and future generations.
Alfvén T, Dahlstrand J, Humphreys D, Helldén D, Hammarstrand S, Hollander AC, et al
Glob Health Action 2019 ;12(1):1670015

Usability and acceptability of an automated respiratory rate counter to assess children for symptoms of pneumonia: a prospective, cohort study in Ethiopia.
Ward C, Baker K, Smith H, Maurel A, Getachew D, Habte T, et al
Acta Paediatr. 2019 Oct;():

Introducing a New Algorithm for Classification of Etiology in Studies on Pediatric Pneumonia: Protocol for the Trial of Respiratory Infections in Children for Enhanced Diagnostics Study.
Rhedin SA, Eklundh A, Ryd-Rinder M, Naucler P, Mårtensson A, Gantelius J, et al
JMIR Res Protoc 2019 Apr;8(4):e12705


Tobias Alfvén

Senior lecturer/specialist physician

Carina King

Research coordinator