IAP is one of the largest and most represented associations of pediatricians or child specialists in India. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), pneumococcal disease is the world’s number one vaccine preventable cause of death among children below five years.
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.
On the number of pneumonia cases in the city, pediatrician Anand Deshpande, president of IAP , Pune said, “The statistics from tertiary care centres suggest that about 15% of hospital admissions are because of pneumonia. Increasing antibiotic resis antibiotic resistance and inadequate vaccine coverage are so me of the reasons for high child mortality rate in India despite consistent efforts of the medical community and the government. There is a dire need for a national-level paediatric pneumococcal surveillance.”
Deshpande explained that immunization is a safe and cost-effective measure to pre vent pneumonia and reduce child mortality.
The WHO recommends inclusion of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) in childhood immunization programmes worldwide, especially in countries where the mortality rate of children below five years is more than 50 per 1,000 live births.
“India has an under-five mortality rate of 52.7 per 1,000 live births. The PCV is recommended for infants, neonates and premature babies aged 2459 months, especially those at high risk – with under-developed lungs, narrow airways, malnutrition, immature or compromised immune system, cancer, cardiovascular disease, sickle cell anemia, symptomatic HIV and measles. Children who attend day care centres should also be vaccinated,” she said.
Paediatrician Sanjay Lal wani, head of the paediatrics department at Bharati hospital said, “Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, if introduced in country’s national immunisation programme (NIP), would significantly bring down under five mortality. For that, the government will require disease burden data, serotype distribution and cost effective vaccine so that it can be rolled out in the NIP.”
“Cost of vaccine is high as only 1% of birth cohort gets this vaccine through private practitioners despite it being available for more than 10 years. At Bharati hospital, we see around three to four cases of pneumonia or meningitis per day and a sizable number of them are due to pneumococcal infection,” said Lalwani, who is also the medical director of the hospital.