Globally it accounts for 20 p.c. of deaths of children below 5 years

Pneumonia is catching up with diarrhoea as a killer of children under the age of five. Addressing a press conference Indian Academy of Paediatricians (IAP) Vijayawada chapter president Ch. Mallikharjuna Rao and secretary Majety Madhavi said the academy flagged of the “Say no to pneumonia” campaign all over the country on November 12, the World Pneumonia Day.

They said globally, pneumonia accounted for 20 per cent of deaths of children under the age of five becoming the leading cause of children in the age group. In India 45 million children under the age of five were infected by pneumonia and 0.37 million of them succumbed to the disease, annually.

Globally, pneumonia killed an estimated 1.4 million children under the age of five, more than those killed by AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis put together. One out of four children killed by pneumonia in the world was Indian.

Creating a hygienic environment, addressing the problem of malnutrition, highlighting the importance of breast feeding for the first six months, timely immunisation were needed for the reduction of child mortality, they said.

The “Say no to pneumonia” campaign was aimed to create awareness among parents, healthcare professionals and policymakers on the importance of preventing pneumonia, they said. While several pathogens caused pneumonia, vaccines have been found for only two of the microbes. One of the most cost effective measures for prevention of pneumonia was vaccination for preventable diseases like H.influenza and pneumococcal diseases.

They said IAP was fighting for the inclusion of vaccine for H.influenza in the routine immunisation schedule of the government. Though the vaccination was expensive the savings on medication, hospital costs, and on the overall health of the child if there was infection would be much more than what was invested on the vaccination, they said.

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