Experts urge more efforts to curb pneumonia deaths in India
Nov 12, 2021 - 08:40 AM
NEW DELHI (AA) – Experts in India have called for more efforts to curb the incidence of pneumonia to prevent the death of children in the country.
In 2018 India reported the second-highest number of children deaths under the age of 5 due to pneumonia, according to a report.
Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya last month acknowledged that around 16% of deaths in children in the country occur due to pneumonia.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency coinciding the World Pneumonia Day on Friday, Dr. Digambar Behera, pulmonologist and the director at the North India-based Fortis Hospital said malnutrition, incomplete immunization, and exposure to indoor pollution are three main risk factors behind the incidences of pneumonia.
He said there is a need to do more to control the disease, even as he acknowledged that the government is making efforts.
“Several studies have shown that there is a higher burden of childhood pneumonia in the country. So, we need to scale up the efforts to prevent these deaths,” he said.
Behera, who was recently given the prestigious Padma Award, India’s highest civilian award, for his contribution in the field of medicine, said there is a need to focus on increasing immunization in both rural and urban areas.
“The government of India has taken steps to prevent this like working on malnutrition, immunization and efforts are on to lower the exposure of pollution. But I think, possibly these things will take time and they are not sufficient,” he said.
Stating that COVID-19 has affected the measures to combat several other diseases, Behera said that we now need to work in the prevention area to lower the deaths.
“Whatever risk factors have been identified; we need to work more on those areas. We need to focus on in like immunization should be increased in both rural and urban areas,” he said.
He noted that while there are several vaccines available for immunization, but not everyone gets their children inoculated. Therefore, he asked the government to ensure like the COVID-19, vaccination for other diseases should also be made mandatory.
“We need to identify such children and ensure the disease doesn’t go into the severe stage. The biggest advantage is that the disease is preventable and then curable as well if diagnosed in the early stage,” he said.
The top medical expert also warned that numbers could increase and create a difficult situation if steps are not ramped up.
India has launched the nationwide free immunization program to combat pneumonia to reduce the child mortality rate by around 60%, said the health minister.