Wider immunization coverage against pneumonia and diarrhea could prevent child death

Bangalore, May 4, 2018: This year for the recently concluded World Immunization Week (April 24-30) local experts from Karnataka, came in with full support for national immunization efforts to save the lives of India’s children under five. The country’s goal is to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1000 live births by 2030[ii], so that India can meet its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Pneumoniaand diarrhea are the country’s leading killer infectious diseases that claimthe most number of lives of children under the age of five.#m_8851603871754069199__edn3" title="">[iii] The IAPexperts cited data from the International Vaccine Access Center’s (IVAC’s) 2017Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report, which states that India could preventover 90,000 child deaths and save over 1 billion USD each year in economicbenefits, by scaling up coverage of immunization programs against pneumonia anddiarrhea.#m_8851603871754069199__edn4" title="">[iv] 

Dr.Karunakara B. P, Professor of Pediatrics & Pediatric Intensivist said, “Immunization is themost powerful tool at our disposal to prevent childhood mortality. Throughsustained and intensified vaccination programs, we have successfully rid theworld of deadly diseases such as small pox and polio. We must now push forrapid scaling up of efforts to achieve full immunization coverage to reduce thenumber of young lives lost to vaccine-preventable diseases.” 

India’sUniversal Immunization Program (UIP) is amongst the world’s largest publichealth programmes that targets 2.7 crore newborns every year with vaccines thatare free of cost.#m_8851603871754069199__edn5" title="">[v] It includesvaccines against leading preventable childhood disease such as polio,diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, tuberculosis, measles, mumps,rubella, hepatitis B, rotavirus diarrhea and pneumonia.#m_8851603871754069199__edn6" title="">[vi] In 2014,government launched Mission Indradhanush, followed by Intensified MissionIndradhanush in 2017 to reach out to all partially vaccinated and unvaccinated childrenand pregnant women in select districts and urban cities in India. According toevaluated data from the National Family Health Survey 4 (NFHS-4) in 2014-2015,full immunization coverage was 62% in India and 62.6% in Karnataka. #m_8851603871754069199__edn7" title="">[vii] Nonetheless,the current figures are likely higher as a result of the ongoing vaccinationprogrammes. 

Now theobjective is to rapidly build immunization coverage beyond 90% by December2018. Commenting on the increased focus on immunization, Dr. R. KishoreKumar Chairman & Senior Neonatologist, Cloudnine, Bangalore,India & Adjunct Prof in Neonatology in Notre Dame University,Australia said, “The government’s ongoing efforts to introducenewer vaccines in the UIP will help to prevent leading infections contributingto childhood mortality. I strongly believe that the availability and inclusionof newer vaccines such as the broad coverage pneumococcal conjugate vaccine(PCV) will help India meet the United Nation’s sustainable development goals toreduce under-5 mortality by 2030.”

According tothe World Health Organization, immunization prevents about 2 to 3 milliondeaths a year and has helped to control several life-threatening diseases andsaved millions of lives.#m_8851603871754069199__edn8" title="">[viii] Experts fromthe IAP remain committed to drive more awareness about the role of immunizationto reduce childhood mortality in the country.

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