Band of mothers fight for vulnerable children

A BAND-of-mothers from the Northern Beaches is joining the fight to protect the world’s most vulnerable children.

Globally, 1.5 million children unnecessarily die from vaccine-preventable diseases each year.

Barbara Gavin from Mona Vale, Diana Shanks from Bayview; Paula Paterson and Maree Nutt, both from Newport; Lili Koch from Seaforth, and Camilla Ryberg from Scotland Island, are all mothers and health advocates of grassroots anti-poverty organisation RESULTS International (Australia), and are making it their mission to ensure that vaccine-preventable deaths become a relic of the past.

Coinciding with the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on Friday, October 17 they will all be penning a letter to their Member of Parliaments, which include, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, The Hon. Bronwyn Bishop, and Prime Minister Tony Abbott, to ask for an increase in support to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance which is a global partnership of countries and donors whose mission is to save children’s lives from curable diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhoeal.

Barbara Gavin, the mother of three sons, believes that it’s an absolute tragedy that every year 1.5 million children die before reaching their fifth birthday just because their parents can’t afford vaccinations.

“Poor children have the same right to access lifesaving vaccines as children in wealthier countries like Australia do,” Barbara said.

Since its creation in 2000, Gavi has helped immunise nearly half-a-billion children worldwide, and it aims to immunise a further 300 million children between 2016 and 2020. Since 2009, Australia has helped immunised an estimated 16 million children and helped prevent 150,000 deaths.

“As a parent, I feel I have an innate responsibility to do something about the 1.5 million child deaths each year. Gavi is the perfect weapon in the fight against vaccine-preventable disease and their efforts will go a long way in winning the fight,” Barbara said.

Barbara and her like-minded advocates, including the Chief Executive Officer of RESULTS, Maree Nutt, will be asking Ms Bishop, a mother of two daughters, and Mr Abbott, a father of three daughters, to invest in no less than $100 million a year to the lifesaving alliance.

“$100 million a year over the next five years has the potential to prevent the deaths of 167,000 people,” Maree, a mother of two children, added.

Barbara is also baffled at the disproportionate publicity that has been given to Ebola throughout the year that has so far killed 3500 people.

“3500 people compared to 1.5 million people. I am not suggesting that we ignore, or do not fund the fight against Ebola, just that we keep it in proportion,” Barbara added.

Throughout October, the mothers will also organise face-to-face meetings with their MPs, so they can go into bat for Gavi just before the Government announces its funding commitment at the crucial pledging conference in Germany in late January.

Maree will also attend a Morning Tea at Parliament House in Canberra on October 29 with The Hon Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs andDr Seth Berkley, Chief Executive Officer of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

The event will recognise the great importance of vaccination and immunisation in Australia and internationally; and Australia’s vital contribution to life-saving global vaccination and immunisation programs for women and children.

“Being both parents, I’m sure Mrs Bishop and Mr Abbott can understand the plight of the world’s poorest children,” Maree added.

“Every child has the right to live past their fifth birthday.”