Pneumococcal disease kills an Indian child every four minutes

September 11th, 2009 - 9:06 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 11 (IANS) Every four minutes, one child in India dies due to pneumococcal disease, one of the key reasons behind infant mortality in the country, a study by WHO and partner organisation revealed Friday.
The study said there are 10 countries in Africa and Asia where the number of such diseases are high. Overall, they account for 66 percent of the global burden of this disease, a virulent version of pneumonia.

These countries include India (27 percent), China (12), Nigeria (5), Pakistan (5), Bangladesh (4), Indonesia (3), Ethiopia (3), Congo (3) and Kenya and the Philippines (2 percent each).

“Pneumococcal disease takes the lives of more than 140,000 Indian children every year - that is one child every four minutes. Just one of our children dying of a preventable disease is one too many, particularly when affordable solutions are available to the public sector,” said Mathuram Santosham, professor of International Health and Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“I urge India’s leaders - and others throughout the developing world - to prioritize this major child health problem by implementing life saving Hib and pneumococcal vaccines and improving treatment strategies to reduce unnecessary deaths,” he added.

According to the study, streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcal disease) and Haemophilus influenzae b [Hib] infections take the lives of an estimated 1.2 million children under age of 5 every year across the globe.

The report also claims that Hib kills at least 72,000 children in India every year.

While India tops in Hib deaths in the world, Nigeria is second with 34,000 deaths and Ethiopia is third with at least 24,000 fatalities.

“The burden of Hib disease is substantial and almost entirely vaccine preventable,” said James Watt, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“Expanded use of Hib vaccine could reduce the global burden of childhood pneumonia and meningitis and reduce child mortality,” he said in a communique.

Earlier Friday, Unicef blamed India, Nigeria and Congo for contributing 40 percent to the global child deaths every year.

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