Source – financialexpress.com
Bihar recorded the highest prevalence of acute respiratory infections among under-five children among the five high-burden states between September 2018 and June 2019. The prevalence of acute respiratory infections among under-five children was 18.2 per cent in Bihar, followed by Uttar Pradesh (15.9 per cent), Jharkhand (12.8 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (11.6 per cent) and Rajasthan (8.4 per cent), according to report — “Situation Analysis of Pneumonia in India” — released on Tuesday.
Household air pollution emerged as the important risk factor for childhood pneumonia.
The report by a non-profit charity organisation, ‘Save the Children’, highlighted that children from households using improved fuel for cooking LPG had a preventive effect. It revealed 2 per cent lower probability of reporting acute respiratory infections (ARIs) in households using clean fuels for cooking.
“ARI prevalence was 4 per cent higher among chidren, wherein breastfeeding was initiated later than one hour after childbirth and 2.4 per cent higher in cases where they were exclusively breast fed for less than 6 months,” the report stated.
According to the report, awareness on signs of pneumonia and importance of early care seeking was poor. This is a critical gap that requires focussed attention.
Almost 81 per cent caregivers preferred private sector for availing medical treatment for pneumonia in children. Under-reporting of pneumonia cases both in public and private healthcare domain, the report stated.
The report encapsulates results from an in-depth assessment of five high-burden states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, mapping the challenges and calling for action.
Dr Ajay Khera, Commissioner, Maternal and Child Health, Ministry of Health, explained how it focuses on improving the quality of care at birth, which involves equipping ASHA workers and mobilizing mothers to healthcare centres.
“Health and Wellness centre is a new entrant in the health system, which will help reaching out to grassroots level. The government has set really ambitious targets to tackle childhood maternity and is totally committed for this cause,” Khera said.
Anindit Roy Chowdhury, Director, Programmes, Save the Children, said, “Pneumonia is still the leading cause of death in children and accounts for 14.3 per cent of under 5 deaths in India, which translates to 1 child death every 4 minutes. India contributes to 17 per cent of global under 5 pneumonia deaths.”
“Addressing childhood Pneumonia is one of the three centenary commitments of Save the Children and we are committed to end preventable pneumonia deaths.This current report, entitled, ‘Fighting for breath in India’, that we are launching, is a step towards that commitment,” Chowdhury said.
Save the Children and UNICEF have entered into a partnership at global level in the fight against childhood pneumonia and is committed to support the health ministry in the roll out of the recently launched SAANS campaign on Pneumonia.
The organisation has also recently collaborated with Philips India to develop and prove low-cost innovative approaches for prevention, diagnosis and management of Childhood Pneumonia.