Updated on 18 September 2012
According to Dr Premalatha, professor, department of pediatrics, Vani Vilas Children's Hospital, Bangalore Medical College, "This hub-and-spoke model allows for concerted efforts between the central institute KIMS Bangalore and the peripheral hospitals across the 15 centers. These centers will be able to access data that will enable accurate detection and treatment.
Ultimately, prevention, detection and treatment will go a long way in reducing mortality rates due to pneumococcal disease." She highlighted an important point that 44 percent of the isolates present in India are becoming resistant to the commonly prescribed drug in India. Hence there is a need to identify new drugs to combat the bacteria and this could be done through the Surveillance program launched in Bangalore.
Talking about the future of the surveillance program, Dr Ravikumar said that "now we need to think how to take this work forward from Bangalore to other parts of the country because the serotypes prevalent in the south might be different from those in the north. Hence such surveillance programs become a necessity. Currently, there is no place in India, to store the isolates of pneumococci. We plan to collect samples from different centers throughout India, identify drugs that will be useful in combating these isolates, and also store or archive the pnemococci isolates for future reference."
Right now there are only two vaccines available in India: one is by GSK which is 10-valent (i.e. can combat 10 isolates of the strain) and another is by Pfizer which is 13-valent. Dr Ravikumar ended on a positive note that "the vaccine for this disease might soon be included in the national immunization program, hence it is important that we start taking the right steps in identifying those vaccines that will help India to combat this disease."
Pneumococcal disease (PD) has been the leading cause of hospitalization and deaths among the elderly population above 50 years of age and children below five years of age in India. Around 140,000 Indian children succumb to Streptococcus pneumoniae every year. As a signatory to the millennium development goals (MDGs) laid down by the WHO, India is committed to reduce the under five mortality to less than 41 per 1,000 live births by 2015 (MDG4).
However, with the current rate of reduction of under five mortality in India (69 in 2008 and 66 in 2009), India may encounter difficulties in achieving the MDG4 goals. To a large extent this is because of the country's inability to reduce infant mortality due to pneumonia and diarrhoea, which are leading causes of child death in India. With a high fatality rate (28 percent) due to PD among adults above 50 years of age, Streptococcus pneumoniae has been identified as the most common pathogen accounting for 30-55 percent of cases.