• New Delhi
  • 27 November 2014
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  • By Dr Siddarth Ramji

"Early diagnosis is the key to successful treatment"

Writes Dr Siddarth Ramji, director and professor, Department of Pediatrics, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi on Pneumonia mortality, control and its Challenges in India


Dr Siddarth Ramji, director-professor, Department of Pediatrics, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India

About Author: Dr Siddarth Ramji is is an eminent pediatrician and neonatologist, academic and researcher. He has been on several task forces and committees that have been involved in formulating child health policy in India. He is currently the Executive Editor of "Indian Pediatrics" and has to his credit almost 100 Research publications.


Pneumonia and diarrhea continue to be important contributors to child mortality in India. According to the Lancet, in 2013 there were 388,000 pneumonia and 206,000 diarrhea deaths in India alone. Preventing pneumonia is, therefore, a key strategy in child mortality reduction endeavors in the country. Prevention of pneumonia can be achieved by multiple interventions, important amongst them being immunization and environmental pollution control. There are a number of vaccines which are available for targeting respiratory infections, some already introduced into the public health system and some awaiting introduction.

Early diagnosis of pneumonia is key to successful treatment. The challenge lies in educating families to identify symptoms and seeking health care early, and training primary care health care providers in early detection, treatment and referral. The figures tell the story. Pneumonia and diarrhoea account for nearly 4 out of 10 under-five deaths. There are 35 million episodes of pneumonia each year, of which four million are severe pneumonia. There are 312 million episodes of diarrhoea each year, of which 6.74 million episodes are severe diarrhoea.

The Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illness (IMNCI) which is the Indian adaptation of the WHO-UNICEF generic Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) strategy was developed to enable early diagnosis, identify symptoms and seek health care. However, a decade since the introduction of IMNCI into India, the strategy has not evolved beyond the training stage, and the systems changes that were
needed have not taken place.


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