Written by Silvia Anna D’Andrea, Alice Zanin, Erica Donno, Helena Quartulli and Alice Azario.
To say World Immunisation Week 2020 was action packed for our Italian Youth Ambassadors would be an understatement. We participated in Twitter actions, took part in inspiring virtual meetings with fellow activists, and demanded world leaders provide a global response to COVID-19.
We are all in agreement that the world needs a common vision in order to tackle this global health pandemic as a global issue — because where you live shouldn’t determine whether you live. Diseases know no borders, which is why immunisation should be accessible to everyone, everywhere. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, is crucial to achieving this objective and making sure that people everywhere can access the vaccinations they need in order to live healthy lives.
To learn even more and keep up the fight for equitable access to vaccines, we participated in a series of talks with experts! Let’s hear from the Youth Ambassadors themselves:
Alice Zanin, 20
Amina Hikari Fall, a German Youth Ambassador, had the chance to go to Mozambique for a three-day trip with Gavi. Amina said she was surprised by the incredible work Gavi has done in Mozambique in only 10 years of partnership.
During her trip, Amina met with journalists, hospital staff, patients, and spoke with some of the mothers who have had their children vaccinated thanks to Gavi. She had the opportunity to see how the campaigns and the activism that we are engaged with have had a real impact on people’s lives. Amina saw firsthand just how important raising awareness of these projects is, as well as showcasing efforts that health workers are making towards reaching all the provinces in the country to make sure no one is left behind during the immunisation sessions, even those who live in more remote areas.
This meeting has changed the way I see global health issues. It helped me realise how powerful and important vaccines are. “None of us are equal until all of us are equal” is more than a slogan – it should be a lived reality. That’s why keeping on campaigning on Gavi is crucial to guarantee equitable access to vaccines. From now on, I look forward to being more involved in health campaigns and continue advocating for Gavi’s mission.
Erica Donno, 16
Being part of the Youth Ambassador program for the first time was almost like signing a blank check. I knew our ultimate goal, to advocate and campaign to end extreme poverty and preventable diseases especially in Africa, but in some ways I still felt clueless of what that meant for me. Virtually meeting with Guillaume Grosso opened my eyes to the work that lies behind making a vaccine available worldwide. He inspired me to follow Gavi’s actions towards making the COVID-19 response truly global, leaving no one behind. Now I understand better all the concrete steps that need to be taken to achieve our goal and to do something I will be proud of.
Helena Quartulli, 22
As a Youth Ambassador, I still believe in words and their power to change the world. On 27th April we had an incredible session with Dr. Chizoba Wonodi which left me with much to reflect on. One of the most powerful things she told us is that, when a vaccine becomes available, it will be important to make sure that it is delivered everywhere and to everyone, including those in developing countries. I have always feared that being a woman could be a challenge in achieving great objectives, but Dr. Chizoba and experiences proved the opposite. Dr. Chizoba’s words changed my perspective about the power of women around the world and gave me new strength and hope for the future.
There are so many great women out there changing the world, Dr. Chizoba Wonodi with her association WAVA (Women Advocates for Vaccine Access) it’s a great example on how women can advocate for equal access to vaccines and strengthened health systems.
Alice Azario, 19
What struck me most about the video conference with Emanuela Del Re, Italy Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, was her determination and willingness to support Gavi, and contribute to ensuring children in low-income countries receive vaccinations.
Seeing her being so supportive and engaged with global health issues and multilateral development cooperation showed me that carrying out an advocacy action with political representatives is really possible, and necessary too. Thanks to this meeting, I had confirmation of how important global health is and that equality must be at the centre of the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as much as other health threats, to make sure we can get through this crisis together. Small actions add up.
There is so much we all can do to help build a better, stronger and healthier world for everyone, and thanks to this series of meetings we are more conscious about it. All the little actions we took campaigning on Gavi and on a global response for COVID-19, have shown that even a small action can have a significant impact.
While world leaders will sit together at Gavi’s replenishment conference on June 4th, we continue voicing the importance of its life-saving work that would make a difference for the future of million people.
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