Pneumonia is an infection in the lungs. It is an acute respiratory infection where the air sacks in the lung are filled with fluid instead of air, which makes breathing difficult.
Caused by infection with bacteria and viruses, pneumonia can affect any age group. But the most vulnerable are children under the age of five.
Around 2,500 children die due to pneumonia every day across the world. Pneumonia claimed the lives of more than nine lakh under-5 children across the world in 2015. Of these deaths, about 1.8 lakh occurred in India.
An Indian government programme to vaccinate 27 million new-born babies against pneumococcus will be worth the expense preventing 34,800 under-five deaths, suggests a new study.
Researchers at the University of Strathclyde in the UK and the Center for Disease Dynamics Economics and Policy in the US and India, who conducted a joint research to determine the cost outcome and cost-effectiveness of the vaccination programme found that it could prevent 34,800 under-five deaths, cost USD 240 million (Rs 1,600 crore) and save families USD 48.7 million in treatment costs annually.
“Pneumonia is a major cause of death in India and as many other countries have done the government decided to introduce PCV in its vaccination programme,” says Dr Itamar Megiddo, Assistant Professor and Chancellor’s Fellow at Strathclyde Business School.
Merits of the vaccination programme
Besides averting a significant number of deaths, the vaccination coverage levels was approximately 77 per cent, which is similar to those achieved by the diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) immunisation programme.
Increasing the coverage level to 90 per cent was found to be the most cost-effective outcome in over 95 per cent of simulated outcomes.
Limitations of the vaccination programme
The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) is expensive than other vaccines included in India’s Universal Immunisation Programme.
It lacks information on the distribution of the disease-causing strains in India.
It lacks contextualised information on the efficacy of the vaccine in India. In addition, its effectiveness in low and middle-income countries remains uncertain.
The study published was in the journal BMJ Global Health.
(With inputs from agencies)