Indian and International experts in child health have stressed the need to take immediate steps to control and prevent pneumonia morbidity and mortality which, they said, is the leading cause of death among children under-five years in India and other developing countries.
"India leads the world in under-five mortality, with 20 lakh children dying every year," said Dr Jeeson Unni on the occasion of the Mangalore Pneumococcal Disease Conference. "Of these, four lakh deaths are due to pneumonia."
The conference is jointly hosted Asian Strategic Alliance for Pneumococcal disease prevention-India chapter (ASAP-India) and Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP).
"Half of all severe cases of pneumonia and pneumonia deaths are caused by pneumococcus and almost 40 per cent of these deaths, nearly one lakh under-five deaths, are preventable by use of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in the Naitonal Immunisation Programme," said Dr Nitin Shah.
Dr Unni said "Pneumonia is the forgotten killer of children. It kills more children than any other illness - more than AIDS, malaria and measles combined - according to UNICEF data".
Doctors use antibiotics to treat children with pneumonia, but increasing incidence of drug-resistant pneumococcus is a cause for concern, Dr Srinivas G Kasi said.
About 80 paediatricians from Mangalore and around are participating in the event.