NEW DELHI: India can save lives of more than 90,000 children aged below five years annually, if it scales up its vaccination programme against pneumonia and diarrhoea, said a report on Friday.
Released ahead of the World Pneumonia Day on November 12, the report published by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, however, noted that India has made a considerable improvement since last year.
"India could save over USD 1 billion each year in economic benefits and avert more than 90,000 needless child deaths each year by introducing and scaling up coverage of vaccination programs targeting pneumonia and diarrhoea," observed the yearly study conducted by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) of the Hopkins Bloomberg School.
The study was conducted for 15 countries which are "disproportionately responsible" for deaths globally of children below five years from pneumonia and diarrhoea.
Although these countries form 55 per cent of the global population together, they contribute as much as 77 per cent to the total global deaths of young children from the two diseases.
The report said that since last year, India has increased its performance by seven points, mainly owing to its vaccination coverage of "measles vaccine, Haemophilus influenza type B vaccine, three doses of diphtheria tetanus and pertussis vaccine, and rotavirus vaccine" during the period.
Among other positive indicators for India, the study said that the country had the highest percentage (77 per cent) of children who were taken to a healthcare provider for suspected pneumonia and the highest percentage (65 per cent) of children below the age of six months, who were breastfed exclusively.
"Exclusive breastfeeding protects infants from pneumonia and diarrhoea," it read.
Tanzania, Angola, Chad, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan from Africa, and India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and China from Asia, comprised the 15 nations selected for the study.