Along with BIMARU (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) states, pneumonia vaccines will also be launched in Himachal Pradesh next year, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare said on Tuesday.

The Ministry has approved introduction of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) under Universal Immunisation Programme for the State. “We are expanding coverage of full immunization in Himachal Pradesh which is aimed at reducing child mortality. Himachal Pradesh will be among four other states where Pneumonia Vaccines will be introduced along with Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in a planned manner from 2017,” said JP Nadda, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare.”This will give a unique opportunity to the State to demonstrate the combined effect of Diarrhoea Vaccine (Rotavirus) and Pneumonia Vaccine (PCV) reduction intervention on the overall child mortality and morbidity in the State,”Nadda added. It may be mentioned that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had earlier this year introduced Rotavirus Vaccine to combat diarrhoea in the four states —Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha.

“Adding this life-saving vaccine such as PCV and Rotavirus to our immunization program will not only improve the health of our children but will also reduce hospitalization and other conditions associated with diarrhoea and pneumonia such as malnutrition, delayed physical and mental development among children. Reduced hospitalization reduces the economic burden on the family and the health cost burden on the country,” Nadda said.

Pneumonia is the leading cause of death and illness among children under five years of age in the world. It results in nearly 120 million cases a year. In India, pneumonia caused nearly 1,75,000 child deaths in 2013.Approximately one out of every five children who die globally, die from pneumonia.