16 Nov Updated India Press Release: IVAC 2018 Pneumonia & Diarrhea Progress Report
Report finds inequity may slow progress in preventing child pneumonia and diarrhea deaths. Authors at the International Vaccine Access Center call on the global community to collect better data and target communities of greatest need.
A new report finds health systems are falling woefully short of ensuring the most vulnerable children have access to prevention and treatment services in 15 countries that account for 70% of global pneumonia and diarrhea deaths in children under five. Globally, pneumonia and diarrhea led to nearly one of every four deaths in children under five years of age in 2016. Released ahead of the 10th annual World Pneumonia Day, on November 12, the 2018 Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report—by the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health—describes progress in fighting pneumonia and diarrhea in 15 countries with the greatest number of deaths from these illnesses. This report analyzes how effectively countries are delivering 10 key interventions—breastfeeding, vaccination, access to care, use of antibiotics, oral rehydration solution (ORS), and zinc supplementation—to help protect against, prevent and treat pneumonia and diarrhea. These measures are proven to help prevent death due to these illnesses and could help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal target of reducing under-five mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births by 2030.
The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report, issued annually for nearly a decade, finds that although countries are making progress in immunization coverage, they seriously lag in efforts to treat childhood illnesses—especially among populations that are remote, impoverished, or otherwise left behind. “Progress to stop child deaths is hampered by persistent inequities in countries around the world,” said Kate O’Brien, MD, MPH, a professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health and IVAC’s executive director. “Addressing inequities will demand greater levels of funding, strong political commitment, accountability supported by better data, and a coordinated global effort that prioritizes the most vulnerable.”
Eight out of 15 countries assessed failed to meet the targets for any of 10 interventions to protect against and treat pneumonia and diarrhea, as outlined in the World Health Organization and UNICEF’s Integrated Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD). Two of the 15 countries met the 90% target coverage rate for at least four vaccines while none were able to attain a 90% level of coverage for treatment measures.2
Progress in India—home to more under-five pneumonia and diarrhea deaths than any other country in 2016—has been mixed. Increasing coverage of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine and continued scale-up of rotavirus vaccines, first introduced in mid-2016, as well as improved ORS coverage led to a bump in scoring for these interventions since last year’s report.
India’s scores for exclusive breastfeeding, on the other hand, declined and the proportion of children receiving important treatments remains well below targets. Despite increasing from previous reports, barely half of children with diarrhea receive ORS and just 20% receive zinc. For the first time, the annual report reviewed stratified national data, revealing inequities in providing life-saving interventions to children based on gender, location of residence (urban or rural), maternal education and wealth.
Yet for India, limitations in data on these subgroups make it challenging to measure how well programs are targeting the most vulnerable children. The authors conclude that in order to accelerate progress, governments must regularly collect quality data. The global community must improve access to interventions for children who are not being reached. Funders must increase support for proven solutions—or risk having progress slip away. Finally, integrating strategies related to health systems, poverty, and education may yield opportunities to improve equity.
Support for the report was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Media Contact: Rose Weeks
Download the Pneumonia & Diarrhea Progress Report 2018 at Bit.ly/pneumonia-progress
About the International Vaccine Access Center
The International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) applies rigorous science to build knowledge and support for the value of vaccines. Based in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with a team of over 40 physicians and professors, economists and epidemiologists, researchers and advocates, IVAC provides global technical leadership on over 15 vaccine-preventable diseases. IVAC’s approach utilizes leading-edge science, clear communication, productive partnership, and capacity building. By generating, synthesizing, and using evidence to inform decision-making and action, we accelerate equitable and sustainable access to vaccines globally. Learn more at www.jhsph.edu/ivac.