India accounts for 25 per cent of the 1.3 million deaths due to pneumonia (lung infection) in children under the age of five years, which was much higher than the 2 per cent of deaths due to AIDS. Pneumonia along with meningitis, bacteremia (blood infection), otitis media (ear infection) and sinusitis are the pneumococcal diseases and infants, neonates and premature babies in the age group of 24-59 months are at high risk of contacting these infections due to underdeveloped lungs, narrow airways, poor nutrition and immature immune system.
But administering effective vaccines which are now available and following good practices like exclusive breast feeding for the first six months, general cleanliness, washing hands frequently, reducing pollution, keeping the home clean and consulting the doctor without delay when the baby is having breathing problem and taking milk would be of lot of help in preventing pneumococcal pneumonia, a noted paediatrician and former president of Indian Academy of Paediatrics’ State branch K. Radhakrishna said at a press conference he addressed along with secretary of IAP district branch R. Atchum Naidu and vice-president B. Rajasekhar on Tuesday. The press conference was held on the occasion of World Pneumonia Day which the IAP was conducting with the theme ‘say no to pneumonia’. The paediatricians are hopeful that in a year or two the price of vaccine would come down.