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A Shot at a Healthier World

By admin Posted in General Vaccines News On February 16th, 2012

By Peg Willingham, Executive Director, Shot@Life Campaign

Imagine a world where all children live polio-free, where the words “measles” or “pneumonia” do not strike fear in the hearts of any parents, and the leading causes of death and disability in developing countries for children under five years old can be prevented.

We’re getting closer to that vision, thanks to immunization.  But we need to pick up the pace if we want to get vaccines to the one child out of every five who still misses out.  Ironically, the children who need vaccines the most are usually the least likely to get them.

In May in Mozambique, I met mothers who had walked more than 15 miles to make sure their children received their measles vaccines. The Mozambican government was committed to reaching these children, with help from UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and many civil society partners and donors, but in a large country with few paved roads, this remains challenging.  The situation is even more difficult in countries wracked by conflict.  We can do more to make it easier for these children and their parents.

Here in the United States, the United Nations Foundation and our partners have launched a new campaign to accelerate access to immunization.  Shot@Life seeks to educate, connect and empower Americans to champion vaccines as one of the most cost-effective ways to save and improve the lives of children in developing countries.  By encouraging Americans to learn about, advocate for, and donate vaccines, we can help give all children – no matter where they live – a shot at a healthy life.

It is campaigns like this that have really caught the interest and imagination of the Decade of Vaccines (DoV) Collaboration. Since October 2011 I have been contributing to the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) consultations – discussing transformative ideas for the global vaccine action plan, as well as ways to develop more game-changing ideas, and sharing best practices from efforts such as Shot@Life.  These outeach efforts by the DoV Collaboration are a crucial part of the wider consultation process,  gathering input from stakeholders to inform and transform a course for action for the next decade – aiming to bring vaccines to all people, regardless of where they are born, who they are, or where they live.