Sixteen years ago, I was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer that by all accounts “found me” and that I had no control over preventing. The only control that I could exert or command over my cancer was to fight it with medicines and treatments and to stay vigilant with check ups after I (thankfully) went into remission.
So when I think about global health issues, like the fact that 1.5 million children die from preventable diseases every year, because of their geography, which is entirely out of their control, is staggering to me.
Staggering especially because WE have the ability to help control these preventable diseases from taking these children from the world. WE have the ability to help save 2.5 million children from preventable diseases with vaccines. Vaccines that have already started to have an impact. Vaccines that thanks to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, have helped the number of new cases of polio drop 99 percent or the Measles Initiative that has vaccinated one billion children in 60 developing countries and has decreased measles deaths by 71 percent. Vaccines to prevent things diseases like Rotavirus, which claims the lives of more than half a million children under age five each year.
The truth is, we do not have control over many things in life. I could not control being 23 and finding my life changed forever because of cancer. But I can control how I take care of myself now, to give myself the best possible health by eating right and staying active. And we can control giving children a shot at a life filled with big dreams.
Control that does not exist when you are born in a developing country and have to walk miles and miles to find clean water. Children and families that lack access to the even the simplest of things we take for granted.
Children like Jasir Tarig, a baby from Khartoum Sudan.
2 months ago, Jasir was vaccinated against rotavirus at a ceremony in Khartoum. He was the very first child in Sudan to be vaccinated against a disease that kills more than a quarter million African children each year. Jasir was finally given a chance at a future free from misery of this disease and its possible death sentence. Jasir and his mother, who had waited 10 years to have a child, came for the second doses right on schedule.
Can we control the fate of Jasir or any other child? No. Of course not. But the fact that Jasir, thanks to two doses of vaccine, will now have the chance to create his own destiny, his own successes, is something that we absolutely can give to other children by supporting Shot@Life.
Young Jasir, still an infant, may live far away, in a place that many of us will never experience. But our world is more and more global each day. A child born in Sudan may grow up, given the opportunity and shot at achieving their dreams thanks to vaccines, to conduct global business that will impact us, on this side of the ocean. One day, the vast miles that separate continents will be nothing thanks to innovative technologies that will bring people together through business and development.
How can you take action and have an impact on global health?
The impact of vaccines on the lives of children around the world is incredible. Now, you can help sustain the impact by sending an email to your member of Congress. Welcome your members to the 113th Congress and ask them to make sure that global health and vaccines are a priority in the new Congress. Take action and make an impact!
This story comes from The GAVI Alliance and is part of Shot@Life’s ’28 Days of Impact’ Campaign. A follow up to Blogust to raise awareness for global vaccines and the work being done by Shot@Life and their partners to help give children around the world a shot at a healthy life. Each day in February, you can read another impactful story on global childhood vaccines. Tomorrow, don’t miss Jyl Johnson Pattee’s post!
Go to www.shotatlife.org/impact to learn more.