Nationwide expansion of pneumococcal vaccine launched

Nationwide expansion of pneumococcal vaccine launched

Mandaviya also released communication and awareness packages on the vaccine

Representative image. Credit: AFP Photo

The Union Health Ministry on Friday expanded the use of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in the universal immunisation programme for the entire nation with the hope of reducing death among children by 60%.

The nationwide rollout comes a few years after the vaccine was introduced in five states – Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh – that account for nearly 70% of India's pneumonia burden.

"Pneumonia is a leading cause of death among children under-5 years old, globally and in India. The nationwide rollout of PCV will reduce child mortality by around 60%”, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said flagging off the expansion.

Also Read | Serum Institute of India launches India’s first indigenous pneumococcal vaccine

As per a 2019 UNICEF analysis quoted by the Union Health Ministry in the Parliament, India stands second in the world in regard to deaths of children caused by pneumonia with nearly 127,000 child pneumonia deaths recorded in 2018. Surprisingly, the ministry doesn't have any updated information on its own on India's pneumonia burden.

A January 2021 report by the ministry on PCV cites statistics from 2010 with officials admitting that the pneumonia data wasn't updated since the last decade when 105,000 pneumonia deaths had occurred in Indian children younger than 5 years.

In 2010, 3.6 million cases of severe pneumonia were reported in kids younger than 5 years in India. The estimated incidence of severe pneumonia was 30.7 per 1000 children per year in those less than 5 years of age, and 87.3 in children aged less than 1 year.

Also Read | Seven in UP held for selling pneumonia injections as remdesivir 

The three-dose vaccine was administered to children at 1.5 months, 3.5 months and 9 months in Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh since 2017 with support from GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, benefitting more than 20 lakh kids. Subsequently, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh were brought into the programme.

India's infant mortality rate has come down to 30 per thousand live births in 2019 from 47 in 2010 and 129 in 1971. Despite the decline in IMR over the last decades, one in every 33 infants dies within the first year of their life at the national level, according to the latest bulletin released by the Registrar General of India.

Watch the latest DH Videos here:

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox