Congrats GAVI! Congrats Ghana! Congrats ONE members!

ONE blogger Bryant Shannon just came back from a trip to Ghana with ONE. He is a public health research scholar for the US Fulbright Program. Read more of his updates on his personal blog.

Last year, along with thousands of other ONE members, I took part in ONE’s campaign to convince the Obama Administration to commit $450 million over 3 years to GAVI -– the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations. We called the White House, tweeted at the President and signed petitions. We were successful –- and even administration officials give ONE’s members credit for creating the tipping point toward success.

It’s not always easy for ONE members to draw a direct line from our meetings, calls, tweets, letters and Facebook posts to direct action halfway around the world. That is why, last week, sitting under a tent in Independence Square in Accra, Ghana, I found myself -– uncharacteristically I might add — at a loss for words. A year ago, I was tweeting at the President and last Thursday I was in the hot Ghanaian capital to see the first simultaneous roll-out of two new vaccines, pneumococcal and rotavirus, to help prevent the two deadliest killers of children under five in the developing world.

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The vaccine inauguration was star-studded with bigwigs in the field of global health from GAVI, WHO, UNICEF and many more. Even more important was the presence of moms with their babies who were to be the very first to receive these two new vaccines and the Ghanaian health officials who are in charge of the ensuring all of Ghana’s children get this help. It’s a huge undertaking and is in fact a Ghanaian-led initiative.

I feel a certain amount of awe that ONE members could have played such a key role in helping make this a reality. It goes to show that what we do here really DOES matter over there.

The ONE delegation was entertained by a multitude of speakers, a dance performance, a theater skit, and even the opportunity to shake the hand of Ghana’s first lady. She was great, telling us we had to listen to her because “I am a schoolteacher!”

She went on to say, “Twenty-two percent of childhood deaths in Ghana are due to pneumonia –- but after today this vaccine will be available in every clinic on our country.”

Congratulations Ghana! Congratulations GAVI! And congratulations ONE members! It took us all to make it happen. If we keep it up, think of all the good we can do.

Even imagine the beginning of the end of AIDS!

Photo credit: C.C. Chapman and Amy Graff