As a run-up to World Pneumonia Day (November 12), several doctors from the Pune Chapter of Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) highlighted the need for pediatric pneumococcal surveillance in India and called for appropriate measures to reduce the disease.
Though India has made significant progress in reaching the Millennium Development Goal of reducing infant mortality rate from 66 per 1000 live births in 2000 to 42 by 2015, it continues to have high number of child deaths in the world, with an estimated 1.2 million deaths in 2015 – 20 per cent of the 5.9 million global deaths.
Increasing antibiotic resistance and inadequate vaccine coverage are some reasons for high child mortality rate in India despite consistent efforts and initiatives by the medical community and the government, says Dr Anand Deshpande, President, IAP, Pune.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), pneumococcal disease is the world’s number one vaccine-preventable cause of death among children younger than five years. WHO recommends the inclusion of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) in childhood immunisation programmes worldwide especially in developing countries like India where the mortality rate of children under five years is 52.7 per 1,000 live births.
In the absence of a national pneumococcal surveillance study, the statistical burden of severe pneumonia in terms of morbidity and mortality is unknown especially at the state level. World Pneumonia Day-2015 highlights the importance of effective immunisation against pneumonia and the need for disease surveillance in India to fill the missing gaps in our endeavour to reduce pneumonia burden, Deshpande said.
There are simple steps to prevent pneumonia , adds Dr Amita Sapru, a consultant pediatrician and associate research consultant at KEM Hospital Research Centre in Pune. Pneumonia is a disease where germs infect the lungs, making breathing difficult and painful. Common pneumonia-causing germs are streptococcus pneumoniae, haemophilus influenzae (Type-B), respiratory syncytial virus and influenza virus.