Pneumonia is the largest infectious cause of death in children worldwide, as per WHO
The Union Ministry for Health and Family Welfare has planned to launch a vaccine against pneumonia in five states as a part of its Universal Immunisation Programme. The health ministry approved the use of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) in Himachal Pradesh and four other states: Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The vaccine will be introduced in a planned manner from 2017.
The vaccine will protect against Pneumococcal pneumonia, a disease caused by Streptococcus pneumonia—a pathogenic bacteria. It is the leading cause of pneumonia in India.
“We have achieved a new milestone towards expanding the coverage of full immunisation in Himachal Pradesh aimed at reducing child mortality,” said J P Nadda, Union health minister.
He added that this will give a unique opportunity to the state to demonstrate the combined effect of PCV and diarrhoea vaccine (Rotavirus) on the overall child mortality and morbidity.
The health ministry had earlier this year introduced Rotavirus Vaccine to combat diarrhoea in the four states of the country - Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha.
As per WHO estimates, 15 per cent of cases of child mortality (0-5 years) are caused by pneumonia. It killed 920,136 children in 2015. Pneumonia is also one of the top cause of neo-natal mortality (death in the first 28 days after birth), being the reason for 33 per cent of all such deaths. Overall, it is the single largest infectious cause of death in children worldwide.
“Adding PCV and Rotavirus to our immunisation programme will not only improve the health of our children but will also reduce hospitalisation and other conditions associated with diarrhoea and pneumonia such as malnutrition, delayed physical and mental development among children. Reduced hospitalisation reduces the economic burden on the family and the health cost burden on the country,” Nadda said.
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