Building demand for vaccines: Announcing the Southern Vaccine Advocacy Challenge funded projects
On March 15, 2012, the Ethical, Social and Cultural (ESC) Program at the Sandra Rotman Centre awarded five organizations with $10,000 each to apply creative and innovative approaches to generate public and political demand for vaccines and immunization in their countries.
“For the first time in history, we have or will soon have vaccines to control many deadly diseases and improve the quality of life of every child on the planet. But the supply of vaccines is not enough. Success at preventing disease with vaccines in developing countries also depends on building demand,” said Peter A. Singer, Director of the Sandra Rotman Centre.
This week marks the first ever World Immunization Week organized by the World Health Organization. Vaccination is one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions saving 2-3 million lives each year; however, 1.7 million children still die from a vaccine-preventable disease – and countless more suffer from stunting of mental and physical development.
The five Southern Vaccine Advocacy Challenge (SVAC) projects aim to create awareness of, and spawn desire for, vaccines and immunization from the people who need them most. These projects were chosen through a peer reviewed competition to be the most innovative and practical among some 60 submitted for consideration from 25 low and middle income countries.
“Tapping into ‘voices from the global South’ harnesses the knowledge, credibility and frontline experience necessary to drive local and national demand for vaccines. These initial SVAC projects represent an important and innovative step to engaging these individuals,” said Lauren Leahy, Research Officer with Centre’s ESC Program.
The innovative projects receiving funding include:
“The Awakening” A Society for Social and Cultural Development in the Swat District, Pakistan are establishing village health committees, school drama clubs and radio programs in addition to using passages from the Holy Quran to promote child vaccination.
In Uganda, where a large part of the population is illiterate, Science Café Uganda is holding community meetings to explain in the nation’s local languages (of which there are 56) how the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine prevents deadly cervical cancer.
In Egypt, a group of young doctors from the Egyptian Medical Students’ Association, along with 400 volunteers nationwide, aim to educate 5,000 parents at hospitals and nurseries about preventing child pneumonia through vaccine by holding a simple competition using coloring books as the prize.
In El Salvador, ASAPRECAN is working to prevent cervical cancer, by mobilizing female parliamentarians and civil society members to lobby the national government to include the HPV vaccine in the National Plan on Immunization.
South Africa’s “Future Fighters” project of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation is using a peer-to-peer education model and 30 energetic, committed youths to educate students about currently available vaccines and offer role models for fighting HIV/AIDS stigma to prepare the way for the potential creation of an HIV vaccine.
To read the full News Release, click HERE
To watch short videos on each of the funded projects, click HERE