The International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) has released the 2019 Pneumonia and Diarrhoea Progress Report Card that shows that both the diseases are still a big threat in India. This is the 10th edition of the report.
- The report found that the 23 countries that account for 75% of under-five children’s deaths pneumonia and diarrhoea are failing the children in providing access to prevention and treatment services.
- 10 key interventions such as breastfeeding, vaccination, use of antibiotics, ORS, zinc supplementation and access to care are analysed by the report.
Status of India
- As per the report, the threat posed by these two diseases is high in India.
- The country is home to the largest population of under-five children in the world and the diseases largely affect the children in this age group.
- Though India improved its score due to the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine and pneumococcal conjugate vaccine to the immunisation programme, the threat remains high.
- While India’s breastfeeding metric at 55% is high among the 23 countries surveyed, the promotion of children receiving important treatments is still below the targets.
- 50% of children with diarrhoea receive ORS (oral rehydration solution), while only 20% receive zinc supplementation.
- Reports from organisations like Save the Children and UNICEF have found that, in 2017, the major risk factors for pneumonia deaths in the country were: child wasting, that is the cause for 53% deaths; outdoor air pollution, that is the reason for 27% deaths; and indoor air pollution from solid fuels – 22% deaths.
- The report urges the global community to increase investments and support countries to develop strategies and interventions to close the gaps and fasten progress.
- As per the report, globally in 2017, one in four deaths in children was due to diarrhoea and pneumonia.
- The report notes a surprise that access to newer vaccines such as pneumococcal vaccine and rotavirus vaccine, and basic treatments like antibiotics and ORS are not reaching many children across the 23 countries.
Pneumonia and diarrhoea are preventable diseases through basic interventions. As the report shows that the disease burden is high in the country, it only shows that the lack of intention on the part of the government to prevent these diseases. Also, it shows that the public health infrastructure of the country is not being able to handle such preventable diseases. More interventions and investments are needed to tackle the problem.