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Pneumonia wins in India
The government needs to urgently take steps towards mass prevention and cure

November 12 is marked as World Pneumonia Day. But this year, the World Pneumonia Day brought some horrifying numbers in tow. The third annual International Vaccine Access Center’s (IVAC) Pneumonia Progress Report 2012 reveals that nearly 1,088 children under 5 years of age die every day in India, an increase by 6.7% from 2008.

In a developing country like India, young children under the age of 5 are often victims of pneumonia owing to malnutrition, unhygienic surroundings, overcrowding and pollution. Lack of awareness and education among the poor often leads to delays in treatment, with fatal consequences. Recent estimates from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) show that pneumonia continues to be the number one killer of children not only for India but also across the globe – causing 18% of all child deaths – which means an estimated 1.3 million child deaths in 2011 alone.

WHO has recommended the inclusion of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in countries that have an infant mortality rate of more than 50 per 1,000 live births. Shockingly, India has not included the pneumococcal vaccine in its immunisation programme simply because it is expensive (Rs.3,800 per dose!). That is unfortunate, since the newest generation of pneumonia vaccines would have successfully protected our children from 23 common strains of the disease. The government must work urgently towards incorporating this vaccine and towards bringing its cost down in coming years.

By:- Ganesh Kumar Roy

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