The Value of Vaccines

Photo: Gavi/Oscar Seykens

On holiday in India, RESULTS’ Global Health Campaign Director, Sarah Kirk, got an intriguing text message…

Today I received a text on my phone from an unknown number. As I am in Delhi, India, and companies tend to recycle phone numbers, this wasn’t surprising.

What was surprising was the content:

“You are requested to visit the nearest polio booth on 18 Jan 2015 and 22 Feb 2015 with your children up to 5 years of age for two drops of polio vaccine – Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department.”

It is clear to me from this text message how much India is valuing vaccines.

I think it is easy to value vaccines when the consequences of not having access to them are all around you.

In Australia, this is a little harder for us. We hear about children dying from easily vaccine preventable diseases, but unless we travel a lot, we do not see this.

Our parents and grandparents knew about widespread infections and risks of death or disability due to diseases such as pertussis, polio and measles.  In the last 50-60 years, large-scale vaccination programs have contributed to these diseases almost disappearing in Australia.

On the 27th of January 2015, the Australian government has the chance to show that we have not forgotten.

This is when Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance partners and donors will come together in Berlin to secure the US$ 7.5 billion required to fund vaccine programmes in the world’s poorest countries in the 2016 to 2020 period.

RESULTS is calling on the Australian government to commit AU$100 million per year over this five-year period.

Over the past 15 years half a billion children have been vaccinated and seven million lives have been saved thanks to Gavi.

It is clear that India values Gavi as in 2014, after many years of support from Gavi, India became a donor itself when the Indian government pledged $US 4 million to Gavi.

If donor partners – like Australia – step up and meet the $7.5 billion target this will allow the Gavi partnership to immunise 300 million more children saving 5-6 million lives.

Then maybe parents around the world will have the luxury of being able to forget about these killer diseases too.

 

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