'Include PCV in national immunisation scheme'

The urge was made during a pneumococcal disease conference held under the aegis of Asian Strategic Alliance for Pneumococcal disease prevention-India chapter (ASAP-India) and the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) here on Sunday.

Talking to media persons on the sidelines of the conference, ASAP-India Chairperson Dr Nitin Shah said half of all severe cases of pneumonia and pneumonia deaths are caused by pneumococcus and almost 40 per cent of these deaths can be prevented by using the PCV.

He said the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) has “agreed in principle” with the Union Ministry of Health to supply the PCV-7, the only vaccine available to prevent the killer disease, in an effort to control pneumococcal diseases in India.
“As per the agreement, the GAVI will start providing the vaccine from 2011-12. It will supply the same at least till 2015,” he said.

Expensive vaccine

Mangalore-based pediatrician Dr Santosh T Soans said a single dose of PCV costs Rs 3,800 and child requires a total of four such doses. “Because of the expense, the vaccine is far from the reach of economically backward people, and hence the government can include this in its official programme. There are already six vaccines in the national schedule,” he said.

However, Dr Soans said, the incidence of pneumonia is comparatively less in Dakshina Kannada. “The low occurrence can be attributed to the high literacy rate and higher standard of living in the region. Majority of the people who come with the complaints of pneumonia in Mangalore are migrant labourers,” he informed.

Dr Ali Kumble said streptococcus pneumoniae can cause serious infections such as bacteremia (blood infection), meningitis (infection of the coverings of brain and spinal cord), sinusitis (infection of the sinuses) and otitis media (middle ear infection).
Dr Shah said two Indian firms have been experimenting in producing the PCV, and if they become successful in their venture, the cost of the vaccine may go down drastically.
Dr Srinivas G Kasi and Dr Jeeson Unni were also present on the occasion. About 65 paediatricians from across the district took part in the conference.

DH News Service

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