KARACHI - Pakistan is the first South Asian country to include Pneumococcal vaccine in its national immunisation programme, however, is yet to create public demand for strong routine immunisation programme, said senior child specialists at a session organised here Monday to commemorate Pneumonia Day.

Discussing relevance of the day celebrated on Nov 12 every year Dr Iqbal Memon and Dr Jamal Raza said 92,000 children of less than 5 years of age die annually in Pakistan due to Pneumonia.

Hence, Nov 12 marks the commemoration of Government’s commitment towards providing each and every child a vaccination that is required to achieve millennium development goals, said President Pakistan Pediatric Association Dr Iqbal Memon.

The senior child specialists mentioned that Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (pneumonia vaccine) was introduced in Pakistan’s EPI programme in October, 2012, however, despite the government’s efforts, an unavoidable 46% of the child population in Pakistan still remains non-immunised leading to child mortality.

“In Pakistan 85 out of 1000 children die under the age of 5 and most of the deaths are due to vaccine preventable diseases,” said Dr Iqbal Memon.

The senior pediatrician regretted that despite the provision of free vaccination through EPI, province like Punjab has only 56% coverage.   He said mentioning that to achieve MDG4 Pakistan ought to reduce child mortality rate by one third and for this Pneumonia is one of the biggest obstacle.

The doctor explaining the ailment said pneumonia is a form of acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs. When an individual has pneumonia, the alveoli (small sacs in lungs which fill with air when a healthy person breathes) are filled with pus and fluid, which makes breathing painful and limits oxygen intake.