On Friday, David Lane announced a new series on the ONE Blog called “Vaccines: The Next 10 Years”. During the month of April, we’ll feature an array of guest posts looking at the next 10 years of vaccines. Today we have a post from John Wecker, PATH Global Program Leader, Vaccine Access and Delivery:
I wanted to cheer. That’s how I felt when I heard that Bill and Melinda Gates want to make this the decade of vaccines—and to back up their words with a pledge of $10 billion. I wanted to cheer not so much for the Gateses, though they deserve it, but for all the precious children I have met throughout Africa and Asia whose lives depend on getting the vaccines that prevent some of the world’s most deadly diseases.
How can we make good on turning the Gates’ generous commitment into effective action? Here are three ways:
- Let’s save lives today by making sure children in poor countries get available vaccines against pneumococcal disease and rotavirus, which causes severe diarrhea. These are among the leading killers of children under five years old.
- Let’s use innovative science to create new and better vaccines to save even more lives.
- Let’s invest in ways to deliver the vaccines to everyone who needs them.
I have the privilege to work for an organization that is doing all three. At PATH, we collaborate with partners around the world to make new vaccines rapidly available to the countries that need them most. One of the most innovative partnerships we contribute to is the GAVI Alliance. Through the dedicated efforts of public- and private-sector organizations, global donors, and country governments, newborns in Rwanda are now getting pneumococcal vaccine and babies in Guyana are being protected against rotavirus. And that is just the start! Together, we are closing the gap between rich and poor nations so that all children live free of vaccine-preventable illnesses.
Some of my colleagues at PATH are helping to develop new vaccines. They are working tirelessly, for example, to create additional pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines that are more effective, less expensive, and easier to use. PATH is also partnering with university researchers, biotech firms, and drug companies to develop first-ever vaccines for malaria, meningitis A, and the leading bacterial causes of diarrhea.
Finally, PATH is helping to get the right vaccine to the right place at the right time. We are working with the World Health Organization to redesign and update systems for delivering vaccines around the globe.
Our partnerships are a testament that no one organization can do this alone. We welcome all hands on deck as we head boldly into this decade of vaccines. By working together and using innovative approaches to increase use of existing vaccines, develop new vaccines, and improve delivery systems, we will save millions more of the world’s most vulnerable children.
Now that is something to cheer about.
-John Wecker, PATH Global Program Leader, Vaccine Access and Delivery