India has the highest number of diarrhea and pneumonia deaths in kids under five in 2016, states a report.
But, owing to increasing coverage of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine and continued scale-up of rotavirus vaccines, first introduced in mid-2016, as well as zinc supplementation, India has shown progress in interventions for fighting pneumonia and diarrhea by one percentage point.
‘Worldwide, pneumonia and diarrhea caused 1.36 million deaths in children under five in 2016. Although several countries are making progress toward improved vaccine coverage, they seriously lag in efforts to stop child deaths as persistent inequities hamper their efforts.’
The 2018 Pneumonia and diarrhea Progress Report by the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, showed that in India the coverage for Hib and rotavirus vaccines increased by eight and nine percentage points, while zinc coverage was recorded as 20 percent.
In contrast, the other treatment indicators decreased: ORS coverage (-13 percentage points), exclusive breastfeeding (-10), and access to pneumonia care (-4).
Globally, pneumonia and diarrhea cause 1.36 million deaths in children under five in 2016, with over two-thirds of the global burden of pneumonia and diarrhea mortality occurring in just 15 countries, including India.
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 India and Nigeria.
"Progress to stop child deaths is hampered by persistent inequities in countries around the world," said Kate O'Brien, Professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of International Health.
"Addressing inequities will demand greater levels of funding, strong political commitment, accountability supported by better data, and a coordinated global effort that prioritizes the most vulnerable," she added.
The report analyses how effectively countries are delivering ten key interventions breastfeeding, vaccination, access to care, use of antibiotics, oral rehydration solution (ORS), and zinc supplementation to help protect against, prevent and treat pneumonia and diarrhea.
These measures are proven to help prevent deaths due to these illnesses and could help achieve the UN's Sustainable Development Goal target of reducing under-five mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births by 2030.
The report finds health systems are falling woefully short of ensuring the most vulnerable children have access to prevention and treatment services in the five countries that account for 70 percent of global pneumonia and diarrhea deaths in children under five.