Pakistan: 70 children die from pneumonia last month in Lower and Upper Dir
A pneumococcal vaccination campaign has begun in the northwestern Pakistan districts of Lower and Upper Dir in response to an outbreak of pneumococcal pneumonia that killed some 70 children during the month of January, according to an Express Tribune report Saturday.
Pneumonia, along with diarrhea is one of the two leading killers of children under age 5. UNICEF reports these two diseases account for 29 per cent of deaths among children under age 5 worldwide – or more than 2 million lives lost each year.
The provincial health department has sent vaccination teams in the affected areas and included pneumococcal vaccine in the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) list.
“The vaccines will be kept in all major hospitals of the province and parents will be required to immunise their children with three doses within 14 months after their birth,”according to Rohullah Jan, deputy director for reproductive health. The vaccines will be provided by the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunisation (GAVI).
Pneumococcal pneumonia is caused the bacterium, Streptococcus pneumoniae.
According to Medicine.net, pneumococcal pneumonia, a kind of pneumonia, can infect the upper respiratory tract and can spread to the blood, lungs, middle ear, or nervous system.
Pneumococcal pneumonia mainly causes illness in children younger than 5 years old and adults 65 years of age or older. The elderly are especially at risk of getting seriously ill and dying from this disease. In addition, those patients with underlying condition are also at increased risk.
According to a information published in a UNICEF report last year, Pakistan ranks #4 in deaths among children under 5 due to pneumonia and diarrhea with 126,000 deaths in 2010 alone.
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