This World Pneumonia Day, the Indian Academy of Pediatrics calls for â€œNo More Pneumoniaâ€
Kolkata, Nov 10 (IBNS): This year on World Pneumonia Day, November 12, experts from the Indian Academy of Pediatrics are stressing on the importance of preventing pneumonia, one of the leading causes of death amongst children under 5 years of age in the country.
In addition, hospitalizations on account of pneumonia put a significant economic strain on the family and the health system of the country.
The experts fully endorse the Indian government’s decision to include the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) in the country’s Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) and believe it will help India achieve one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals reduce under-5 mortality.
Dr. Jaydeep Choudhury, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Institute of Child Health, Kolkata said, “Pneumonia should not be allowed to take as many lives as it does, because we now have vaccines that can help protect millions of children from this life-threatening disease. More than 140 countries have introduced the same pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in their immunization programmes as India has recently done and this decision will definitely help us achieve our goal of 90% immunization coverage by 2018. In areas where the vaccine may not yet be available under the UIP, we advise parents to consult their pediatricians about alternative solutions that can offer broad coverage.”
The Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria that cause “pneumococcal pneumonia” are responsible for about one third of all pneumonia deaths, globally and in India.i,ii Many lives can now be saved from this disease through the administration of the PCV. According to a studyii published in 2015, there were an estimated 564,200 cases of pneumococcal pneumonia episodes in children under 5 in India and 32,100 cases in West Bengal.
Commenting on the need for stronger preventive action in India’s fight against pneumonia, Dr. Jaydeep Choudhury said, “Although India’s under-5 mortality rate has reduced significantly since 2011, we still have the unfortunate tag of having the largest number of under-5 deaths in 2016 as compared to any other country in the world.iii,iv Now with the inclusion of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in India’s UIP, we hope we can change this and come closer to meeting the Sustainable Development Goal of reducing under-5 mortality in India.”
Under the UIP, the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine has been introduced to cover approximately 21 lakh children in the first year year in select states with GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization) support.5
In recent years, the IAP has focused on ways to educate parents about the disease, increase community awareness of healthy practices to reduce its risk and empower community health workers to recognize and refer possible cases of pneumonia. The IAP believes that targeted, effective work and the scaling up of life-saving interventions in the country are the need of the hour to put an end to the mortality ascribed to this disease.