India still losing fight against child pneumonia, diarrhoea epidemics

It is World Pneumonia Day 2016, and India stands pretty much where it stood last year — right on top of the charts with a total of 2,96,279 deaths from pneumonia and diarrhoea, the tally being just short of last year’s figure of 2,97,114 deaths, and the nation desperately needs to reduce those numbers.

The Pneumonia and Diarrhoea Progress Report published annually by the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, puts India at the top of the list of 15 nations, as it did last year, and the years before.

The report, however, does indicate some consolation can be found in the fact that India is among the 12 nations that have improved their Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD) score this year.

The report says: “The rate of all-cause mortality in this age group has been cut by more than half worldwide since 1990, from 91 deaths per 1,000 live births to 43 in 2015. Although this is an enormous achievement, pneumonia and diarrhoea’s contribution to under-5 deaths remains stubbornly high.

In 2015, these two diseases together were responsible for nearly one of every four deaths that occurred in children under five.”

Nearly 15 years after the introduction of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccines in 2000, five countries among those with the highest pneumonia burden — India, Indonesia, Chad, China and Somalia — are still not using the vaccine in their routine immunisation programmes, the report noted.

Partial introduction

India recently announced a partial introduction of the vaccine in five states (Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh) from 2017.

Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda, speaking earlier this week, said: “Adding life-saving vaccines such as PCV (pneumococcal conjugate) and rotavirus to our immunisation programme will not only improve the health of our children but will also reduce hospitalisation and other conditions associated with diarrhoea and pneumonia, such as malnutrition and delayed physical and mental development among children.”

India introduced rotavirus vaccines in four States in 2015. In addition to thinking of vaccines, the report points out other simple proven interventions in order to prevent these deaths, including antibiotics, exclusive breastfeeding, and access to treatment and care.

Also urging nations to go beyond business as usual, it chronicles innovations that help speed up the process and better chase the goal of cutting down the number of preventable child deaths.

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 3:57:50 AM |

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