Wednesday November 20, 2019

A Vaccine Against Pneumonia And Meningitis Saves Million Children

"far too many deaths , about 900 every day, are still being caused by these two infections."

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A child receives a meningitis vaccination at the community center in Al Neem camp for Internally Displaced People in El Daein, East Darfur, Oct. 8, 2012.
A child receives a meningitis vaccination at the community center in Al Neem camp for Internally Displaced People in El Daein, East Darfur, Oct. 8, 2012. VOA

A vaccine against bacterial pneumonia and another against meningitis have saved 1.45 million children’s lives this century, according to a new study.

The diseases the vaccines prevent are now concentrated in a handful of countries where the medications are not yet widely available or were only recently introduced, the research says.

Pneumonia is the leading cause of death among children worldwide. The bacteria targeted by the shots, Haemophilus influenzae type b (known as Hib) and Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), are major causes of pneumonia and also cause meningitis. Together, the two bacteria claimed nearly 1.1 million lives in 2000, before the vaccines were widely available, according to the World Health Organization.

Vaccines against the bacteria are not new, but funding to provide them in low-income countries only became available recently.

A baby with parents
A baby with parents, Pixabay

To estimate their impact, the researchers started with country-by-country data from the WHO on pneumonia and meningitis cases and deaths, as well as vaccine coverage estimates. They factored in data from dozens of clinical studies on infections caused by the two bacteria to create estimates of illness and death from the diseases in 2000 and 2015.

They found deaths from Hib fell by 90 percent in 2015, saving an estimated 1.2 million lives since 2000. Pneumococcus deaths fell by just over half, accounting for approximately 250,000 lives saved.

The research appears in the journal The Lancet Global Health.

“What was interesting was to see the rate at which some of these deaths have been prevented in the last several years,” said lead author Brian Wahl at Johns Hopkins University, “largely due to the availability of funding for these vaccines in countries with some of the highest burdens [of disease].”

The study estimates that 95 percent of the reduction in pneumococcal deaths occurred after 2010, when 52 low- and middle-income countries began receiving funding from Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, to introduce the vaccine into their national immunization programs.

“The good news is that the numbers are moving in the right direction,” wrote Cynthia Whitney at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an accompanying editorial.

Pneumonia in child
Pneumonia in child, flickr

However, Whitney added, “far too many deaths — about 900 every day — are still being caused by these two infections.”

She notes that more than 40 percent of the world’s children live in countries where pneumococcal vaccine is not a routine childhood immunization.

Many of the countries with the largest number of deaths from these two bacteria have recently introduced the vaccines, but coverage is uneven.

India, Nigeria, China and South Sudan had the highest rates of death from Hib, the study says. All but China have introduced the vaccine in the past few years.

Half of the world’s pneumococcal deaths occurred in just four countries: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Pakistan. All have recently introduced the vaccine, though in India it is a routine immunization in only three states.

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Lowering the global burden of these diseases will depend on improving coverage in these countries, the study says. (VOA)

Next Story

Physical Activity and Healthy Diet can cut the Risk of Heart Attack in Children

The study presented at the Brazilian Congress of Cardiology in Porto Alegre, shows baseline results in the 433 Brazilian students surveyed

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Children
Currently, Physical activity is well below the level recommended by the WHO, which is 300 minutes per week for Children and adolescents. Pixabay

Encouraging physical activity and improving diet in Children is crucial to cut deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD), a new study suggests.

“Atherosclerosis – clogged arteries – starts in childhood and is more likely with a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diet,” said study lead author Karine Turke.

“Exposure to these behaviours throughout life increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes, so prevention should begin in childhood,” Turke said.

Cardiovascular disease is the world’s number one killer, causing 17.9 million deaths a year.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the number of overweight or obese infants and young children rose from 32 million globally in 1990 to 41 million in 2016.

Around 3.2 million deaths each year are due to insufficient physical activity.

The study presented at the Brazilian Congress of Cardiology in Porto Alegre, shows baseline results in the 433 Brazilian students surveyed.

The median age was 13 years and 51 per cent were male. The median time spent doing mild, moderate and vigorous physical activity over one week was 40 and 60 minutes, respectively. The median sitting time was 360 minutes per week.

“Physical activity is well below the level recommended by the WHO, which is 300 minutes per week for children and adolescents,” said Turke.

Children
Encouraging physical activity and improving diet in Children is crucial to cut deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD), a new study suggests. Pixabay

Regarding food, 53 per cent had consumed leafy vegetables the previous day, 69 per cent fruit, 91 per cent carbohydrates like rice or pasta, 70 per cent legumes, 79 per cent meat, 42 per cent soft drinks, 39 per cent chocolate, 39 per cent powdered beverage mixes, 42 per cent sausages and 49 per cent candy, including chocolate or any other sweets.

“Many had eaten processed foods, which are easier for parents to prepare than cooking from fresh ingredients,” said Turke.

ALSO READ: Eat Your Breakfast To Score God Marks

“Students will learn to classify foods as fresh, minimally processed, processed, and ultra-processed, and to prioritise fresh and minimally processed items,” Turke added. (IANS)