India’s vaccination coverage to prevent rotavirus infection, a leading cause of severe diarrhea in young children, was the lowest among the 15 countries which introduced it last year, a new report said. It also pointed out that India lost over 2.6 lakh children under five years from pneumonia and diarrhea in 2016.
Even as vaccine coverage has significantly improved in India, other interventions against pneumonia and diarrhea, the two major causes of child deaths in the country, declined in last one year.
ORS coverage dropped by 13 percentage points, exclusive breastfeeding by 10 percentage points, whereas access to pneumonia care decreased by four percentage points in one year.
With a total of 2,60,990 deaths of children under 5 years of age due to pneumonia and diarrhea, India continues to top the list of 15 countries with the most casualties. While 1,58,176 children under 5 died of pneumonia, diarrhoea accounted for 1,02,813 deaths in 2016.
Female children in India lose out on vaccination despite improvements in full immunization coverage. Only 78 females were fully immunized for every 100 males fully immunized in poor areas of Delhi. Addressing these disparities can help reduce pneumonia and diarrhea burden.
Globally, pneumonia and diarrhea cause 1.36 million deaths in children in the same category in 2016. Over two-thirds of the global burden of pneumonia and diarrhea mortality occurs in just 15 countries. Despite significant reductions of disease in recent years with improvements in access to and use of health interventions, nearly half a million pneumonia and diarrhea deaths still occurred in just India and Nigeria.
The report lists exclusive breastfeeding, vaccination, access to care and use of antibiotics, oral rehydration solution, and zinc supplementation as key interventions to help prevent and treat pneumonia and diarrhea.