India tops global pneumonia child deaths

India tops in global pneumonia deaths of children under five years of age with 3.97 lakh reported in 2010, says a UNICEF study.

The third annual International Vaccine Access Center's (IVAC) Pneumonia Progress Report 2012 says that almost 1,088 children under 5 years of age die everyday in India, an increase of 6.7 per cent from 2008 IVAC data which pegged the deaths at 3.71 lakh annually.

Recent estimates from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) show that pneumonia continues to be the number one killer of children around the world - causing 18 per cent of all child mortality, an estimated 1.3 million child deaths in 2011 alone.

Nearly all pneumonia deaths occur in developing countries, and three-quarter take place in just 15 countries and majority of pneumonia cases are preventable or treatable, it says.

The Pneumonia Progress Report, 2012, released by IVAC and John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says none of the 15 countries with high mortality due to pneumonia have reached the 90 per cent of WHO and Unicef's Global Action Plan for Prevention & Control of Pneumonia (GAPP) target for each intervention.

The report says India and Nigeria, the two large countries with highest numbers of child deaths worldwide, remain low scorers with an average intervention coverage rate of 55 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively.

The latest estimates on pneumonia mortality come in the wake of accelerated efforts to achieve the the Millennium Development Goal 4 of reducing under five child mortality by two thirds between 1990 and 2015 and gives a warning to India to speed up its vaccination efforts to prevent child deaths.

The report says that while India has made considerable stride in introducing hib vaccine in a few states, it still has much to do to strengthen its comprehensive approach to fighting pneumonia, including introduction of a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine as previously recommended by NTAGI in at least one state.

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