The counterpart of Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) in Pune has reinstated the need for paediatric pneumococcal surveillance-in order to reduce the burden of severe pneumonia in terms of morbidity and mortality for children under the age of 5 years. Statically, this figure remains untraced, more specifically at the state level.
Designed to appropriately measure these untapped numbers, and also effectively monitor the situation, IAP, the largest association which represents paediatricians or child specialists interests has taken the initiative to formulate this surveillance.
Different measures are being taken into consideration to arrive at a decision to monitor the situation , including factors like the increasing antibiotic resistance, inadequate vaccine coverage as critical areas. Immunization is considered to be the most safe and cost-effective measure to prevent pneumonia and reduce child mortality.
As per the recommendation guidelines of the WHO, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) in childhood immunization programmes worldwide, can be very effective in case the mortality rate is more than 50 per 1,000 live birth-under the age of five.
On the number of pneumonia cases in the city, paediatrician Anand Deshpande, president of IAP, Pune said, “The statistics from tertiary care centres suggest that about 15% of hospital admissions are because of pneumonia. Increasing antibiotic resistance and inadequate vaccine coverage are some of the reasons for high child mortality rate in India despite consistent efforts of the medical community and the government. There is a dire need for a national-level paediatric pneumococcal surveillance.”, as reported by the Times of India.
“India has an under-five mortality rate of 52.7 per 1,000 live births. The PCV is recommended for infants, neonates and premature babies aged 24-59 months, especially those at high risk – with under-developed lungs, narrow airways, malnutrition, immature or compromised immune system, cancer, cardiovascular disease, sickle cell anemia, symptomatic HIV and measles. Children who attend day care centres should also be vaccinated,” she said.
Paediatrician Sanjay Lalwani, head of the paediatrics department at Bharati hospital said, “Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, if introduced in country’s national immunisation programme (NIP), would significantly bring down under five mortality. For that, the government will require disease burden data, serotype distribution and cost effective vaccine so that it can be rolled out in the NIP.”
“Cost of vaccine is high as only 1% of birth cohort gets this vaccine through private practitioners despite it being available for more than 10 years. At Bharati hospital, we see around three to four cases of pneumonia or meningitis per day and a sizable number of them are due to pneumococcal infection,” said Lalwani, who is also the medical director of the hospital.