Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh Government has launched a vaccination drive in six of its districts under which kids are being administered free pneumonia...
Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh Government has launched a vaccination drive in six of its districts under which kids are being administered free pneumonia vaccines to combat the menace.
The UP Government has already admitted that three children under the age of five die of pneumonia in the State every hour.
This means that around 27,800 children die of it every year in the State.
Considering this, the State has been chosen by the Union Health Ministry to include the pneumonia vaccine-- Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) -- under the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP).
To be rolled out in a phased manner, the programme has started with six districts in the State from this month.
Pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, is the single largest killer of over 10-lakh children under five years of age across the world.
In India, 45 out of 1,000 children under the age of five die of the infection every year.
UP accounts for the maximum number of pneumonia deaths in India followed by Bihar (23,200 deaths/year), Madhya Pradesh (13,400 deaths/year) and Rajasthan (11,900 deaths/year).
"The districts to be covered in the first phase are Kheri, Sitapur, Siddharthnagar, Bahraich, Balrampur and Shravasti.
These districts have been chosen first because their score against important health indicators like infant mortality, child mortality and maternal health is low," said Alok Kumar, mission director, National Health Mission, UP here today.
Dr Madhup Bajpai, chief of WHO, UP region, said all children must get this one-time vaccine shot whenever their district is included.
"The vaccine costs around Rs 4,000 in the private sector whereas it is free under the UIP," he said.
He said one of the commonest causes of pneumonia is a bacteria called pneumococcus.
It accounts for about 16 per cent of all pneumonia cases and 30 per cent of all pneumonia deaths.
Studies have shown that the number can be brought down significantly by the use of PCV.
Health experts point out that besides posing a risk to life, pneumonia can affect a child's physical and cognitive development and result in poor performance in school.
"Preventing pneumonia in children is an essential component of the strategy to reduce child mortality.
Immunisation against Hib, pneumococcus, measles and whooping cough is the most effective way to prevent pneumonia,"officials here said.
Adequate nutrition is key to improving a child's natural defences, starting with exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.
In addition to being effective in preventing pneumonia, it also helps to reduce the duration of illnesses.
Addressing environmental factors, such as indoor air pollution (by providing affordable, clean indoor stoves) and encouraging good hygiene in crowded homes also reduces the number of children who fall ill with pneumonia.