Community-acquired pneumonia in the United Kingdom: a call to action

James Chalmers, James Campling, Gillian Ellsbury, Peter Hawkey, Harish Madhava, Mary Slack

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Pneumococcal disease has a high burden in adults in the United Kingdom (UK); however, the total burden is underestimated, principally because most cases of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) are non-invasive. Research into pneumonia receives poor funding relative to its disease burden (global mortality, disability-adjusted life years, and years lived with disability), ranking just 20 out of 25 for investment in infectious diseases in the UK. The current accuracy of data for establishing incidence rates is questionable, and it is a reflection of the paucity of research that much of the background information available derives from nearly 30 years ago. Given the relationship between CAP and mortality (pneumonia accounts for 29,000 deaths per annum in the UK, and 5-15% of patients hospitalised with CAP die within 30 days of admission), and the increasing threat of antimicrobial resistance associated with inappropriate antibiotic prescribing, such neglect of a highly prevalent problem is concerning. In this Call to Action, we explore the poorly understood burden of CAP in the UK, discuss the importance of an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment, and suggest how national collaboration could improve the management of an often life-threatening, yet potentially preventable disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2017


  • antimicrobial resistance
  • clostridium difficile
  • community-acquired pneumonia
  • immunization
  • pneumococcal disease
  • pneumonia burden
  • pneumonia diagnostics
  • pneumonia epidemiology
  • streptococcus pneumoniae


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