Pneumonia leading cause of death among children: Experts
Mangalore: Indian and International experts in
child health have stressed the need to take immediate steps to
control and prevent pneumonia morbidity and mortality which,
they said, is the leading cause of death among children
under-five years in India and other developing countries.
"India leads the world in under-five mortality, with
20 lakh children dying every year," said Dr Jeeson Unni on the
occasion of the Mangalore Pneumococcal Disease Conference.
"Of these, four lakh deaths are due to pneumonia."
The conference is jointly hosted Asian Strategic Alliance
for Pneumococcal disease prevention-India chapter (ASAP-India)
and Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP).
"Half of all severe cases of pneumonia and pneumonia
deaths are caused by pneumococcus and almost 40 per cent of
these deaths i.e. nearly one lakh under-five deaths, are
preventable by use of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in the
Naitonal Immunisation Programme," said Dr. Nitin Shah.
Dr Unni said "Pneumonia is the forgotten killer of
children. It kills more children than any other illness - more
than AIDS, malaria and measles combined -according to UNICEF
Doctors use antibiotics to treat children with pneumonia,
but increasing incidence of drug-resistant pneumococcus is a
cause for concern, Dr Srinivas G Kasi said.
About 80 paediatricians from Mangalore and around are
participating in the event.
Dr Nitin shah said "pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
has proven 90 percent efficacy against invasive pneumococcal
disease (IPD) in the trials done in the West. Even in
countries like South Africa the trials have shown 80 per cent
efficacy of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine against IPD".
The speakers and participants were unanimous about the
pivotal role of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) in
preventing pneumococcal disease in infants and children
younger than 24 months. It also helps protect older
children up to nine years. Successful childhood national
immunization programme with PCV has shown significant benefits
passed on to even unvaccinated people of all ages due to the
herd immunity against IPD and penumonia,they said.