India accounts for one out of four child deaths from pneumonia across the world, where the disease claims 1.4 million children under five years of age each year.
Meanwhile, pneumonia is the cause of one out of five deaths worldwide in the same age group, according to the Times of India.
The paper quotes Dr Rashmi Kapoor of India’s Academy of Paediatrics as saying that worldwide pneumonia kills more children below the age of five years than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Meanwhile, India accounts for almost 25 percent of the world’s pneumonia deaths of children.
“Pneumonia accounts for 20 per cent deaths among children below 5 years of age becoming the leading cause of death in the age group. According to the IAP records, annually, India witnesses 45 million pneumonia cases among children below 5 years of which 0.37 million die due to pneumonia,” the paper quoted Kapoor as saying.
Experts say the government should introduce the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), which immunises children against pneumonia and other diseases caused by streptococcus pneumoniae.
But the government also needs to address the issue of malnutrition and breast feeding for the first 6 months, timely immunisation and appropriate healthcare during delivery to reduce significantly mortality rates, the paper said.
Notably, breast feeding — especially in the first days after birth — provides many of the important antibodies humans need to fight off disease. But in many Indian communities, early breast milk is considered to be “polluting,” so it is extruded and thrown away. And poor families often eschew breast feeding in favor of substitutes such as cow’s milk fortified with honey in the mistaken belief that a weak woman’s breast milk is not sufficient for the baby’s health.
This article was published in the GlobalPost.com by Jason Overdorf on November 14, 2012.