Centre urged to include pneumonia vaccine in immunisation prog

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Hyderabad, Sep 25 (UNI) The Indian Academy of Pediatrics today urged the Centre to introduce Pneumococcal vaccine in the national immunisation programme to prevent pneumonia and improve child care in the country.

Addressing a press conference here, IAP's Andhra Pradesh chapter President P Sudershan Reddy said India could take several important steps to prevent pneumonia and improve child survival through the expanded use of life-saving pneumonia vaccines.

The government should formulate a time table for introduction of the pneumococcal vaccine into the national immunisation programme.

Dr Reddy said the time table should address directly how it would utilize the life-saving vaccines that were currently available or soon to be licenced and how it would simultaneously encourage the involvement of Indian suppliers.

Stating that pneumonia was a leading killer of children in India with four lakh children under the age group of five years succumbing to it every year, he said India tops the list of pneumonia deaths in the world, which altogether accounted for 20 lakh.

He said 50 per cent of pneumonia deaths were due to neumococcus and 20 per cent due to Haemophilus Influenza B.

Claiming that 15 crore episodes of pneumonia were reported every year in the children under five years in the world, he said 4.4 crore episodes of pneumonia were reported every year in India.

Dr Reddy said immunization prevents Pneumonia deaths, and HIB, Measles and Pneumococcal Vaccines together could reduce the deaths by half.

Stating that 50 per cent of the children in India were under nourished, he said adequate nutrition would reduce pneumonia deaths by another half. Exclusive breastfeeding for six months was five times more advantageous for a child's survival when compared to non-breastfed babies.

IAP Secretary P Venkateshwar Rao said the Centre could obtain Pneumococcal vaccine for Rs 7 to Rs 14 per dose with financial support from Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (GAVI) fund.

This funding was expected to continue upto the year 2015.

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