Pneumonia and diarrhoea are major reasons for death in the post-neonatal period. In 2015, India recorded an under-five death rate of around 48 deaths for each 1,000 live births. It is serious situation as around 1.26 million children aged below five years die in the country every year.
In a recent report released by International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the top five countries with highest burden of child pneumonia & diarrhoea cases globally are India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola. The report also stated that 15 years after pneumococcal conjugate vaccines’ (PCV) first introduction globally in 2000, five of the highest pneumonia burden countries (India, Indonesia, Chad, China and Somalia) are still not using the vaccine in their routine immunisation programs.
Post the report launch, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare(MoHFW) announced that the pneumococcal conjugate vaccines(PCV) that combats pneumonia, will be rolled out as part of the Universal Immunisation Programme in a phased manner in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The introduction of the vaccine will start in 2017.
"Adding this life-saving vaccine such as PCV and Rotavirus to our immunization program will not only improve the health of our children but will also reduce hospitalisation and other conditions associated with diarrhoea and pneumonia such as malnutrition, delayed physical and mental development among children," said Union Health Minister Shri J P Nadda.
There are still many conversations with the cost issues related to the newly introduced vaccine. In private sector, three doses of PCV will cost around Rs 15,000. Dr Pradeep Haldar, Deputy Commissioner (Immunization), Union Health Ministry has stated that the vaccine will be supported by Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization(GAVI) initially and later Ministry of Health will acquire vaccines under Government of India’s programme at subsidized costs.