Pneumococcal disease, one of the world's leading causes of death and serious illness, must be considered equally dangerous as AIDS and malaria, say the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Pneumococcal Disease Prevention in the Developing World in a report launched in the House of Lords.
According to the report, between 700,000 and one million children under the age of five die each year from pneumococcal disease, equivalent to malaria and more than AIDS and tuberculosis.
A vaccine against the disease exists and is being used in the UK and it's impact has been seen in England and Wales, where there has been a 59 percent reduction of cases of invasive pneumococcal disease among children under the age of two since it was introduced in September 2006.
But developing countries, who account for more than 90 percent of pneumococcal deaths, do not have access to these vaccines.
The UK Parliamentarians urge donor and developing countries to continue their commitment to fighting this killer disease through vaccination, strengthening healthcare systems, sustained political will, funding for research and international coordination of efforts.
"We have a responsibility to help reduce the global health problem of pneumococcal disease, which is under-recognised and until recently, has had few dedicated efforts made to tackle it," said Chair of the Group Dr. Des Turner, MP.
"The APPG developed this report in response to the urgent need to improve child survival and tackle the devastating impact of pneumococcal disease in the developing world. As we've highlighted, governments and international organisations have a crucial role to play in preventing pneumococcal disease in the developing world, and need to maintain and grow commitments to mobilise the resources needed to fight the disease," Turner added.
Additionally, the report covers the disease burden, financing and also the future of the fight against pneumococcal disease.
Dr Orin Levine, Executive Director, GAVI's PneumoADIP, said: "We commend APPG's recommendation to elevate pneumococcal disease alongside other global killers including AIDS, malaria and TB."