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India tops list of pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths

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New Delhi: India tops the list of nations with the highest number of pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths in the world, a report said on Friday.

Nigeria, Pakistan, Congo and Angola are other nations that have high number of deaths due to pneumonia and diarrhoea.

“Despite the progress India is making to accelerate immunisation, it remains the country with the highest burden of pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths among children under five,” said the 2015 Pneumonia and Diarrhoea report.

According to the report, India in 2015 witnessed deaths of 297,114 children below five years of age due to diarrhoea and pneumonia.

“The figures for other countries stood at Nigeria at 210,557, Pakistan at 103,760, Democratic Republic of Congo at 78,422 and Angola at 54,548 children below five years of age. The lowest among the list of 15 countries with highest number of diarrhoea and pneumonia deaths was Tanzania with 22,394,” said the report.

The report was released by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The report stated: “Although global progress has been made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals and reducing child death, in 2015, around 5.9 million children are expected to die around the world before reaching their fifth birthday.”

“Of these 5.9 million, pneumonia was responsible for 16 percent and diarrhoea was responsible for nine percent deaths, making them two of the leading killers of children worldwide. This report highlights the need for sustained efforts to decrease the global burden of the diseases, especially in the 15 highest burden countries,” said the report.

“This year’s Pneumonia and Diarrhoea Report demonstrates the need for sustainable progress as we move beyond 2015 toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. This means increasing equitable access to vaccines, diagnostic tools, and medication to prevent unnecessary pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths,” said Kate O’Brien, professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg school of Public Health.

O’Brien, who is also the executive director of IVAC, stated: “Vaccine introductions and scale ups, promotion of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life, increasing access to appropriate pneumonia treatment, and ensuring sustainability for the post-2015 agenda are all required to put an end to these preventable diseases.”