Understanding Pneumonia in the Philippines

“I haven’t slept all night. We’ve been here since 1AM. We took my son to the emergency room because his breathing didn’t sound right. It was too fast and too deep. He started coughing at 6PM. We thought it was just asthma so we nebulized him to ease it. He seemed fine, playing as usual. But later, he couldn’t sleep properly. Every now and then, he’d wake up because of a stuffy nose and his continuous panting.

One of the doctors said that he has pneumonia as well and that it can kill. I was so shocked to hear those words! I broke down and cried. I never thought something like this can happen to my child.

I can’t really remember how they explained it. Another doctor told me that there’s a vaccine for pneumonia and that asthmatic children should get it. But no one told me about it when I’d take him for his shots. I wish I knew!

I thought that they’d just give him oxygen and give us a prescription. But he looks like he’s having trouble breathing again. My husband has been at the pharmacy for a long time now, buying the medicine Jacob needs. I tell my son to get better already, so he can go home. But if he doesn’t get better soon, they won’t let us go home.”

  • Shiela Marie Espinosa
    Housewife, Mother (20 years old) to Jacob (3 years old)
    Translated from Tagalog

Pneumonia is the leading cause of deaths for children under the age of 5 in the Philippines. There is a vaccine, but it’s priced too high for all Filipino children to get vaccinated in the long term. That’s because pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and GSK still has yet to drop the price. Meanwhile, they’ve made over US$28 billion in global sales from the pneumonia vaccine alone.

We believe that life-saving vaccines should be accessible for all Filipino children, not kept out of reach in the interest of large profits. That’s why NextDayBetter and Doctors Without Borders have partnered on a global action campaign asking Pfizer and GSK to drop the price of the pneumonia vaccine for developing countries like the Philippines.

NextDayBetter Storyteller: Candice Quimpo