As you most of you know, we formally launched our child vaccines campaign in the US last week. Many of you have already sent in blog comments, Facebook posts and tweets sharing your enthusiasm and passion for this cause, and we have to admit that we’re excited too. As advocates, we think the opportunity to support GAVI in their efforts to save 4 million lives in the next 5 years through vaccinations is pretty incredible. GAVI is hosting a global pledging conference in the UK on June 13th to raise the money needed to achieve this goal — and we think the US will be weighing its contribution in the next few weeks — so that’s why we’ve chosen to focus publicly on this issue, right now.
We’ve gotten some comments that the campaign overlooks nuance and detail. We hear you. But sometimes in campaign-land, we simplify our pitches to make them as attention-grabbing as possible, and save some of the nuance on the issues for which we’re campaigning for the Hot Topics section of our website (bonus points for those of you who have already spent time in the policy team’s nerd-land). So, when some of you wrote in after our first email saying “but vaccines alone won’t solve the problem!” or “wouldn’t kids be better off with improved water and sanitation?” we weren’t surprised, because we also agree with these sentiments.
Vaccines are some of the most powerful public health tools we have right now — they’re relatively cheap, easy to administer even in the most remote places, and have a proven track record of saving millions of lives each year. Vaccines also help us ensure that we don’t wait around for kids to get sick and require treatment — instead we can help prevent the deadliest forms of disease upfront, for the long term. But improving access to safe water and improved sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in the developing world is also critical; doing so would make a huge impact on some of the biggest child killers — especially diarrhea. That’s why we’re a part of the Health/WASH Network of advocates and are always looking to feature the work of our partners in this area. We also work with our partners on these issues (see our blogs from World Water Day and World Toilet Day), knowing that improvements in WASH will only accelerate our common campaign work to reduce child deaths.
Ultimately, for the majority of our health challenges, just one intervention won’t do the trick. Bed nets alone without treatment and indoor spraying won’t help us end malaria deaths, and vaccines alone won’t help us end all child deaths. But just like bed nets, vaccines are powerful, inexpensive tools we have ready to go — and we can campaign around them because they’re tangible things that allow us to talk about the bigger global health picture that doesn’t fit in an email subject line.
As always, send us your questions or feedback through any of our social media channels. Thanks for your support of our campaign!
Photo courtesy of Adrian Brooks/Imagewise 2008, Courtesy of IVAC at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health