Pneumonia along with diarrhoea are among the major killers of children under-5 years of age with India accounting for the highest number of deaths from these illnesses in the world.
New Delhi, 16.04.17: Aiming to give its immunisation drive a major push and to bring down child deaths caused by pneumonia, the health ministry is set to launch pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) under the universal immunization programme (UIP) by end of April.
“We are ready to launch PCV anytime now. It will be most likely done my end of this month. In first phase we will introduce it in Himachal Pradesh and parts of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh,” a senior official told TOI.
Pneumonia along with diarrhoea are among the major killers of children under-5 years of age with India accounting for the highest number of deaths from these illnesses in the world. In 2016, nearly 3 lakh children died from pneumonia and diarrhoea. Of the two, pneumonia alone accounts for 18-19% of deaths of children under-5 years of age. While 25% of these deaths are caused by Hib pneumonia— addressed by pentavalent vaccine already under UIP—50% of the pneumonia related deaths are from pneumococcal pneumonia. The new vaccine PCV is specifically targeted at this cohort.
In 2016, the health ministry had introduced the rotavirus vaccine targeting diarrhoea under the UIP in four states — Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Earlier this year (2017), the reach of the vaccine was expanded to cover five more states — Assam, Tripura, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The government now also plans to cover Uttar Pradesh — another high burden state— by October. PCV will be the third major vaccine introduced by the Modi government in last two years to bring down India’s infant mortality rate (IMR) currently pegged at 41 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Apart from rotavirus in 2016, it also introduced injectable polio vaccine (IPV) in 2015. Besides, the introduction of new vaccine, the government has also significantly ramped up consolidated coverage through Mission Indradhanush, launched in 2015, to fully vaccinate 90 lakh children under its immunisation programme.
Following Mission Indradhanush, the coverage of UIP has jumped. Government statistics show around 75% of children below 12 months of age are fully immunised as of now, as compared to around 65% in 2013.
Courtesy: Sushmi Dey, Economic Times