Understanding Pneumonia in the Philippines

“I didn’t know what to do. It was looking so desperate! I had just gone home from church when I saw that my 9-month-old baby was so weak. She’d lost her energy. She was so pale. And she kept coughing, so much that she couldn’t sleep. When she’d nurse, she would vomit. I decided to rush her to the public hospital in the next town. It was late at night; I wasn’t going to wait for the clinics to open.

On top of everything, she had loose bowels and vomited as soon as we got to the ER. I felt the situation was looking hopeless. To find out what was wrong, I took her stool and blood samples to the laboratory. The doctor told me she had pneumonia. And worms.

They placed an IV in her and gave us a prescription to treat the pneumonia. I wanted her to get better so badly but I had no idea how I was going to pay for all these. I had nothing! After my last job as a construction worker, I wasn’t getting hired anymore.

I had to find help quickly! A patient I’d just met told me to go to the government’s social welfare services in the hospital that can take care of our expenses. Another patient, a very nice lady, took pity on us and gave me some money for the medicine. Finally, we were able to go home. Still, for two weeks, we were in and out of the hospital as my baby battled pneumonia.

Somehow, because of the kindness of strangers and with government aid, everything worked out. I don’t know what would have happened otherwise. My baby’s much better now. Her cough has eased and she can finally sleep. She’s finally smiling again.”

  • Bernie Sevilla
    Father, Unemployed
    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