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700 million children immunised, and it’s not over yet

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Vaccines don’t just stop us from getting sick, they keep us healthy too, which means we can take all the opportunities that life has to offer.

Gavi is a global Vaccine Alliance that brings together public and private organisations with a shared goal — to make vaccines more available, accessible and affordable to children who need them the most. Incredibly, Gavi has supported some of the world’s poorest countries to immunise 700 million children, averting 10 million future deaths that would be lost to vaccine-preventable diseases.

Gavi champions, look back at their childhoods and tell us what immunisation means to them:

Mathilde de Calan, Gavi,  is motivated by her childhood experiences with vaccines to ensure vaccines work for every child: “When I was a kid, I had been seriously sick with a polio-like disease, and I remember how my parents were worried… I strongly believe in vaccines, they prevent kids from being sick and parents being worried.”

Mathilde de Calan

Dr Awele Eluemu, CEO Avon Medical Practice is motivated by her cousin to ensure that vaccines work for every child: “When I used to play with my many cousins, I recall one of them would often struggle to keep up. He had metal poles on his thin legs linked to special shores. I asked my mum what had happened to him and she told me that he had been ill. When I got older, I realised my cousin had polio, and that it could have been prevented if he had been vaccinated. He was one of the millions who slipped through the cracks. Now, I work to protect other children from this condition.”

Dr Awele Eluemu: age 5 years and now.

Jeremy Farrar, Director, Wellcome Trust is motivated by his childhood to ensure vaccines work for every child: “I was one of the first children globally to be vaccinated against polio in 1961 in Singapore. There were huge epidemics in South East Asia including Singapore in the late 1950s and early 1960s and Singapore took the decision before the vaccine was fully licensed to offer it to every child  – I was one of them. In my professional life, I have looked after hundreds of patients dying of diphtheria, rabies, tetanus, measles and other totally preventable diseases.”

Jeremy Farrar: age 3 years and now.

Anuradha Gupta, Deputy CEO, Gavi, is also motivated by her experience with measles as a child to ensure vaccines work for every child: “When I was born, children in India were not vaccinated against measles. I was infected and was lucky to survive. The child of our domestic help was not as fortunate and died. I am so grateful that millions of children around the world today receive both measles vaccine and other life-saving vaccines. It means they can thrive and attain their full potential in life.

Anuradha Gupta: age 7 years and now

Bineta MBacke, Gavi, is motivated by her childhood in Senegal and her mother’s work during Senegal’s cholera epidemics to ensure that vaccines work for every child: “Senegal was hit in July 1971 by the seventh cholera pandemic, I was born a few months later. My mom, a retired midwife, kept talking for years of this terrible period where many babies died for lack of proper care.”

Bineta MBacke

Looking to the future

Gavi recently brought together over 300 global health leaders, including governments, civil society organizations, and private sector partners (UAE,10-11 December). It was an opportunity to celebrate the millions of lives saved so far, and set out a vision for the future. During the meeting, partners recommitted to the fight and new alliances were formed, including with Mastercard who will use their expertise to help set-up digital immunisation records. And with Parsyl, to monitor the quality of vaccines – many of which become useless if not kept at a constant temperature.

Gavi are well on the way to making vaccines more affordable and available, enabling many of the world’s poorest countries to sustainably provide better healthcare and save millions more lives.

A big thank you to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi)  for providing the story.

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