Bengaluru: The Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP), Bengaluru, demanded the Central Government to supply pneumococcal conjugate vaccine 13 (PCV13) to prevent the mortality among children from economically weaker sections in Karnataka.
Speaking to media persons, Dr M Venkatachalapathy, president, Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP), Bangalore, said the pneumonia was responsible for about 20 per cent mortality among children below five years. “Many parents, especially those from economically weaker sections, could not afford to buy PCV13. Each does of PCV13 costs Rs 3,800. We are demanding the government to supply PCV13 free of cost for the benefit of children from poor families,’’ Dr Venkatachalapathy said.
According to Dr Venkatachalapathy, the top risk factors for pneumococcal disease in children are inadequate immunization coverage, nutrition, pollution, overcrowding. “Hospitalisation and intensive care due to pneumonia can be an economic burden for families and therefore immunization with PCV13 is recommended. However, since cost can be a factor, we advise parents to go for a suitable vaccine as per their economic condition,’’ he said.
Symptoms of pneumonia include dry cough, chest pain, fever, shivering, difficulty in breathing, nausea, fatigue, and quick heart rate. “In case of any of these symptoms are observed, it is advisable to go for a chest X-ray for diagnosis,’’ he said.
Explaining the need for precautions and surveillance for pneumonia, Dr Srinivas S, vice president, IAP, Bangalore, said respiratory disease causes more deaths in children below five years than diarrhoea. “Among the respiratory diseases, pneumonia is responsible for approximately 90 percent mortality. Most common cause of pneumonia is streptococcus pneumonia. India leads the chart for pneumonia incidence. We recommend pneumococcal vaccine at 1.5, 2.5 and 3.5 months and there is also discussion of adding this vaccine to the government schedule,’’ Dr Srinivas said.