Understanding Pneumonia in the Philippines

“I’m always worried now when I hear my baby coughing. He’s been coughing for three months on and off, getting somewhat better when I’d give him some cough medicine. But a couple of weeks ago, his cough sounded hard and his stomach was so sunken when he’d take a breath.

We actually took him to the hospital because of diarrhea and vomiting, but the doctor heard him coughing. It turned out, he had pneumonia as well. They confined him for treatment for five days. Thankfully, his x-rays didn’t show any signs of tuberculosis.

This wasn’t the first time I’d dealt with pneumonia either. His eldest sister suffered from bronchopneumonia when she was one year old. Her case was scarier. They kept her in the ICU for three days before she finally got better.

I actually don’t know what to do to prevent pneumonia. I didn’t think to ask and no one has given me advice either. I know a vaccine exists, but it’s not available at the health center. I learned about it because I heard the social workers talking about it. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to afford it. Our house was demolished and we’re still waiting to be relocated. I have five children.

But I’d like to know more because my baby is coughing again. I have some medicine for him and an herbal supplement the neighbors said will help his cough. But it’s like, here we go again. Yes, I’m worried again.”

  • Rosana Tañola
    Mother of 5
    Lives in a shanty covered by tarpaulin
    Waiting to be relocated
    (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 have 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