Farah Khan is the face in fight against pneumococcal disease
NEW DELHI - Well-known film director and choreographer Farah Khan is the face in the fight against pneumococcal disease in India, helping create awareness about this group of illnesses that include pneumonia, meningitis and ear infections and which strike children aged below five.
Khan, who has given the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) to her three children, supports vaccination against pneumococcal disease in a new television commercial, pharmaceutical major Wyeth Limited that is supporting the initiative said in a statement.
“As a mother, I want to ensure that my children don’t fall prey to diseases that can be prevented, she said, adding: As a concerned parent, I feel it is important to support a cause that can help save lives of children in India.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), pneumococcal disease is the leading vaccine-preventable cause of death in children younger than five years of age worldwide, said Ranga Iyer, managing director of Wyeth Limited, the Indian subsidiary of the global giant.
India is committed to achieve the World Health Organizations Millennium Development Goal 4 which is to reduce under-five mortality by two-thirds by 2015. Mass immunization of infants against pneumococcal disease will help in reducing child mortality in India, Iyer added.
UNICEF and WHO estimate that more than 150 million cases of pneumonia occur every year among children under five in developing countries, accounting for more than 95 percent of all new cases worldwide. India alone accounts for 44 million pneumonia cases.
Pneumococcal disease is becoming a growing threat worldwide, according to the report Pneumonia: The Forgotten Killer of Children published by UNICEF and WHO. Besides acute illness and sufferings, the disease can also lead to long term complications like brain damage, paralysis, learning disabilities, speech delays and at times death.
Wyeth is the manufacturer of Prevenar, the first and only pneumococcal conjugate vaccine approved to help protect infants and young children against the disease.
The vaccine, which is manufactured in Britain, costs Rs.3,800 a dose. The company recommends a regime of three shots plus one booster shot.
Certain racial groups have a higher risk of contracting pneumococcal disease. Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, Native Alaskans, and Native Americans all have a heightened risk compared with Caucasians.