Children’s deaths from pneumonia, diarrhoea bring India shame

Published - November 20, 2015 02:12 am IST - CHENNAI:

India has the highest number of pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths among children globally, reports the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The 2015 annual report of the IVAC reads like a repeat of last year’s report card, despite the progress the country is making to accelerate immunisation.

With 2,97,114 deaths, India is once again at the top of the list of countries with the highest burden of the two diseases among children under the age of five. The list includes Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola.

In 2015, these two diseases together were responsible for one in four deaths in children under five, with 15 countries bearing a disproportionate burden. The report stated that while between 2014 and 2015, seven nations had made substantial gains in their scores, the gains were minimal in large countries, such as India and Nigeria.

Progress is evaluated by the Global Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea intervention scores, including parameters such as vaccination, exclusive breastfeeding, access to care and use of antibiotics, oral rehydration solution and zinc, the report says.

Also, in a reflection of the rate of progress over the past few years, it points out that without significant gains in countries like India, Nigeria, China and Indonesia (with a large number of births annually), there will be no reduction in the global pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths among children under five years.

However, the global study does recognise in India, a strong political commitment to immunise all children in the next five years, as expressed by Prime Minister Modi and Union Health Minister J. P. Nadda; increased efforts to monitor data and progress at the district levels; and launch of Mission Indradhanush, aiming to expand immunisation coverage in high-priority districts with large populations of unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children.

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