Fourteen per cent of under-five deaths in India — approximately 1,27,000 deaths annually — happen due to pneumonia. In 2013, this figure was about 1,78,000.
It is estimated that half of these deaths are in the northern belt of the country. The current pneumonia mortality rate is five per 1,000 live births and the target is to reduce this to less than three by 2025, says a report released ahead of the first-ever global forum on childhood pneumonia in Barcelona from January 29 to 31.
According to a modelling by Johns Hopkins University, scaling up pneumonia treatment and prevention services can save the lives of 3.2 million children under the age of five the world over. It would also create ‘a ripple effect’ that would prevent 5.7 million extra child deaths from other major childhood diseases at the same time, underscoring need for integrated health services.
Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF, said: “If we are serious about saving the lives of children, we have to get serious about fighting pneumonia. As the current coronavirus outbreak shows, this means improving timely detection and prevention. It means making the right diagnosis and prescribing the right treatment. It also means addressing the major causes of pneumonia deaths like malnutrition, lack of access to vaccines and antibiotics, and tackling the more difficult challenge of air pollution.”
Outdoor air pollution contributes to 17.5 per cent — or nearly one in five —pneumonia deaths among children under five worldwide, according to a study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
Household pollution from the indoor use of solid cooking fuels contributes to an additional 1,95,000 (29.4 per cent) deaths.
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