New Delhi, April 9 (PTI): India accounts for the highest number of pneumonial deaths among children aged less than five years, a joint report by the Unicef and World Health Organisation (WHO) has said. With 4.1 lakh pneumonial deaths of children under five every year, India accounts for 19 per cent of such deaths across the world.
The worldwide pneumonia data collated by the WHO shows that India has the maximum 44 million episodes of pneumonia cases every year. "Pneumonia mortality perhaps leads to a quarter of all under-five deaths in India. We have broadly accepted the WHO guidelines for reducing the Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI) in children under five," Prof B K Paul of the Pediatrics Department of AIIMS said.
The report 'Pneumonia - The Forgotten Killer of Children' said India has the largest percentage of undernourished children, which is implicated as one of the main reasons of pneumonial deaths among children. About 47 per cent of children under five years of age in India are undernourished and among these 18 per cent fall in the severly underweight category, it said.
"The biggest population of underweight children in India makes them highly vulnerable to pneumonia. We are now focusing on the implementation of effective preventive measures," he said. The trends in India shows that only 67 per cent of under-fives with pneumonia are taken to an appropriate health care provider.