Last month GAVI proudly announced its partnership with the Global Citizen Festival, a social mobilisation project culminating in a free concert in New York on September 28. The Festival aims to convince world leaders into addressing the key issues related to extreme poverty, such as education, women’s equality and – you guessed it – global health and immunization.
And it’s already working. More than ten thousand global citizens have signed the petition to call for more immunization funding, giving us more than ten thousand new advocates for the power of vaccines. We are receiving more signatures every day, but we cannot stop here.
This September, heads of state and international decision-makers will convene in New York for the opening of the 68th UN General Assembly, and in the weeks and months beforehand we have a real chance to influence change.
The success of the End Polio campaign, which galvanized 22,000 US citizens to write to their politicians and effectively brought about a US Senate request for polio funding, has not only proven that people genuinely care about averting child deaths from vaccine-preventable illnesses, but importantly that their concern is politically powerful.
We must learn from this example and seize this opportunity to raise awareness about the potential of vaccines to transform lives. One single shot given to a child can protect them from a disease over their lifetime, which is a cost-effective investment in the future. A child who has been immunized does not need costly drugs or medical care, and so is more likely to go to school, keeping money in the family and giving the parents time to work. The child and their family are more likely to lift themselves out of poverty and contribute to their community and local economy.
However, with more than 22 million children worldwide not receiving the full array of basic vaccines, we have some work to do. And new powerful vaccines for the two largest killers of children—diarrhoea and pneumonia—are just being added to country vaccine programs and will add to the effects of these basic vaccines.
By prioritizing investment in immunization we can not only stop children dying from vaccine-preventable diseases, but, ultimately, we can help the 1.3 billion people living in extreme poverty to have a chance at a better quality of life.
Continue the Global Citizen momentum: work with the GAVI Alliance and the Global Poverty Project to build a future where all children are fully immunized.
Please sign the petition and add your voice to the call for greater investment in immunization.
This blog post is also featured on Global Citizen website.