Kolkata: Despite intervention in tackling pneumonia and diarrhoea among kids in the country, the goal of providing care to every child remains a challenge, a health expert has said.
Eileen Quinn, spokesperson for PATH, an international organisation tackling health needs in Asia and Africa, acknowledged "heavy intervention" in India with regard to the two diseases but the goal of reaching care to every child remained unfulfilled, she said.
Quinn was here to attend the ongoing 14th World Congress on Public Health co-sponsored by the World Federation of Public Health Associations and the Indian Public Health Association.
The Centre has identified 54 districts in four states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, as the "High Burden States" accounting for more than half of under-5 deaths in the country because of pneumonia and diarrhoea.
Incidentally, a report of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the government citing various surveys, said that the country accounted for the highest number of diarrhoea and pneumonia deaths globally.
It also says that pneumonia and diarrhoea account for nearly four out of ten under-five deaths in the country.
Around 312 million episodes of diarrhoea occur each year, of which 6.74 million episodes are severe diarrhoea while out of 35 million episodes of pneumonia each year four million are severe, the report stated.
Last October, the Centre, during a meeting with representatives of WHO and UNICEF in the national capital, sought their assistance to counter the under-5 deaths in these districts.
Representatives from state governments as well as district authorities were also present in the meeting.
The Centre sought to implement the Integrated Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD) into its existing programmes to counter the diseases in these states," she said.
"Permutation has already started in two or three places. The Indian government is planning to deliver an integrated approach following the guidelines set by the WHO and the UNICEF," she said.
Though the strategy would be based on the same framework based on the guidelines of UNICEF and WHO, the execution would vary from one state or district to another.
"We need to find out where the missed connections are and where they are not being able to deliver the action," she said.
Members in the health department, including those who work on family and social welfare, besides government entity were engaged in the programme.
Talking about what makes it difficult for the efforts to reach the target, she held the geographical distribution of the property responsible. "There has been difficulty in terms of distances between health care centres and a family access."
"People really want sanitation, clean water. They would go out of their way. Mothers travel long distances or wait for long hours for their children to receive vaccines or medicines. The demand is there. It's just that the execution is not happening," she said.
It should be mentioned that the WHO had urged countries to take the lead in directing action to implement the GAPPD in order to move the needle significantly in achieving the Millennium Development Goal to save the lives of children under five.
Pneumonia and Diarrhoea collectively account for 29 per cent of all child deaths globally, resulting in the deaths of more than two million children each year, the WHO said.