Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Not Much
Mains level: U5 mortality in India and measures to prevent them
- The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health summit is to be hosted by India in December.
- In 2016, pneumonia was the leading cause for under-five deaths in India, and more than 25 million children under the age of two were found not immunized
Menace of Pneumonia
- A report by Save the Children (“Fighting for Breath”) showed that pneumonia kills two children in this age group every minute — more than malaria, diarrhoea and measles combined.
- More than 80% of victims have weakened immune systems caused by malnutrition or insufficient breastfeeding and unable to fight the infection.
- The “Fighting for Breath” report says that globally, a million children are dying from pneumonia annually, even though it can be treated with antibiotics costing as little as ₹26.
- In 2016, pneumonia was the leading cause for under-five deaths in India, and more than 25 million children under the age of two were found not immunized with pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.
- While the Indian government has taken several steps to improve the health of children, India continues to top the world ranking in the number of deaths due to the disease
- The number of unvaccinated children in the 0-2 age range in developing countries is estimated to be at around 170 million, with India dominating.
Caused by air pollution
- Air pollution is a major risk factor for pneumonia.
- The sources of pollution vary across and within countries.
- Outdoor air pollution, which is associated with emissions from factories, the burning of rubbish and coal, and traffic, is a growing concern.
- Children living in urban slum environments often face high levels of exposure to these sources of pollution.
Indoor Pollution is worsening the Situation
- Indoor air pollution is a major contributor of respiratory infection in many high-burden pneumonia countries, where the burning of biomass for cooking, heating and lighting are the common sources of pollution.
- According to the International Energy Agency’s Energy Access Outlook 2017 report, over 63% of households in India use biomass energy sources.
- Research shows that that the association between pneumonia and air pollutant exposure is particularly strong during the first year of life.
- It is a well known that exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months acts as an effective vaccine and continued breastfeeding with the gradual introduction of complementary food is another risk-reducer.
- Defeating pneumonia necessitates multi-sectoral action plans.
- Concerted action by the government, backed by civil society, corporates and communities can help save children’s lives, but we need to move fast.