Ahead of World Pneumonia Day which will be observed on November 12, a recent study shows that pneumonia kills one child under five in every two minutes in India.
The result of the study also revealed that at least three out of 20 children are infected by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. However, according to the doctors of Indian Academy of Paediatrics, people can prevent from pneumonia by taking vaccines, healthy lifestyle and timely medical intervention.
"The government of India has included pneumococcal vaccine under the immunisation scheme, but it is now available only in select states. It may take time to launch the vaccine in Tamil Nadu, but parents who can afford it should vaccinate their children," said Dr. C Satheesh, president, Indian Academy of Paediatrics, Chennai, on Tuesday.
The vaccination of Pneumonia will cost around 3,600 and children below the age of 15 months will require three doses and a booster.
Apart from vaccination, doctors recommend exclusive breastfeeding for up to five months, nutritious diet, pollution control, hygiene, and immunisation.
Statistics show that at least 30 per 1,000 children are affected by the disease. In 2010 (the latest statistics available), there were more than 3.6 million episodes of pneumonia among children.
"But in many cases, the cost is high because increasingly bacteria are resistant to drugs like amoxicillin.
The second line of treatment is expensive and costs a ton and worse there is no guarantee of the outcome," Dr. Satheesh said.Several senior pediatricians agreed.
"It is important to give children the vaccine. It prevents illness and suffering. Also, parents spend more when the child is infected," said Kanchi Kamakoti Child Trust Hospital medical director Dr. S Balasubramanian.
A study co-authored by Dr. Balasubramanian says streptococcus pneumoniae is the major cause of pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis.
"It's now proven beyond doubt that vaccines are effective. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies, governments, and aid donors need to come together to make the vaccine price more affordable to save more lives," he said.