Pneumonia, Diarrhoea claim over two lakh Indian kids every year

Maitri Porecha New Delhi | Updated on November 12, 2019

An estimated 2,33, 240 Indian kids below the age of five, died of either of the two infections, according to 2017 figures. (file photo)

Nearly one of every hundred children will not live to celebrate their fifth birthday in India, because they die of either pneumonia or diarrhoea, two infections that are preventable, according to the 2019 Pneumonia and Diarrhoea Progress Report Card released by John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and International Vaccine Access Centre. 

Largest number of kids fall prey to diarrhoea and pneumonia in India, than in any other country across the world. India tops the list of fifteen countries in which maximum number of children fall prey to these preventable infections, according to the Report Card.


An estimated 2,33, 240 Indian kids below the age of five, died of either of the two infections, according to 2017 figures. For every 1000 live births in India, up to nine babies die before celebrating their fifth birthday. India has to decrease deaths by six to nine times to meet United Nations sustainable development goals, which aim at less than three deaths per 1000 live births for pneumonia and less than one death per 1000 live births for diarrhoea by 2025.

Child deaths

China, a country more populous than India, records an estimated 24, 254 child deaths, at a rate of 1.5 deaths per 1000 live births. While Pakistan has lower number of deaths due to lesser population, a total estimate of 90, 398 children dying, the number of deaths per 1000 live births is almost double that of India at 16.6. Chad has the highest death rate at over 43 kids per 1000 live births dying before they turn five, however because it is a small country, the total annual number of deaths stand at 27, 496.


Nearly one in two babies are not breast-fed in India for the first six months, as it’s exclusive breast-feeding rate stands at 55 per cent. Breast-feeding is known to increase immunity that can prevent such infections, states the report.

Oral Rehydration Supplements to save life

Moreover, vaccination rates in India, according to the latest estimates drawn by the World Health Organisation for Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) stand at six per cent and for RotaC (anti-Rotavirus vaccine to prevent diarrhoea stand at 35 per cent, according to the report. One in two affected children do not receive Oral Rehydration Supplements (ORS) and only 20 per cent receive zinc supplements, which are crucial to saving lives.


The report says, “Several countries in this report have plans to introduce or scale up these vaccines in the coming years, but sustainability will be crucial. Coverage of breastfeeding and treatment for pneumonia and diarrhoea continues to lag behind immunisation coverage, and data are updated far less frequently, making actual progress difficult to track.”




Published on November 12, 2019

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