Pneumonia and other forms of acute respiratory infection (ARI) kill about a million children alone each year in poor countries. Pneumonia is contagious and is commonly transmitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes small droplets that contain the germ into the air. If treated, pneumonia usually is not fatal.

The signs of pneumonia are a cough accompanied by high fever and rapid breathing. A person with these symptoms needs to be taken for treatment immediately. Since pneumonia is primarily caused by bacteria, the person can usually be treated with inexpensive antibiotics.

The problem is that in very poor villages and communities there are often no doctors or health centers for treatment. A fairly recent innovation has been to train one person in each village or community to provide rudimentary healthcare, including dispensing common antibiotics. This common-sense solution has worked very well in many of the poorest areas of Africa, Asia, and South America.

Sources: World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF.

Note: The map display above is representational only and does not show the names and faces of real people. The photographs are computer composites of multiple individuals.