The following post was written by Melinda French Gates and contributed to the HNN by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Childhood vaccines are modern miracles – for just a few dollars per child, they can prevent death and disease for a lifetime. Immunizing children against diseases contributes to Millennium Development Goal 4 (reduce child deaths) and is critical to ensuring that children have a healthy start to life.
As a result of focused vaccination efforts, smallpox was eradicated, measles deaths in Africa have been cut by more than 90 percent in the past decade, and polio has been reduced by 99 percent. Just a dozen infectious diseases cause more than half of all child deaths in developing countries. The good news is that we have existing vaccines to prevent most of them, and other vaccines, like one for malaria, are on the way. The bad news is that they reach too few of the children who need them, primarily in developing countries.
This is why we invest in partners like the GAVI Alliance and Save the Children. GAVI provides financial support to the world’s poorest countries to help them introduce vaccines that save millions of lives. GAVI has immunized more than 250 million children with life-saving vaccines. Save the Children works to improve the health and lives of children around the world. Save the Children and the Ad Council recently launched a Good Goes Newborn and Child Survival Campaign, which is featured in Public Service Announcements, like the one below.
I visited Ethiopia last year and was so excited by the progress I saw. It starts with the frontline health workers like Elias Kayessa (from the video), who staff health clinics, visit mothers at home while they are expecting and in the critical first days after birth, immunize children against disease, and deliver medical supplies. Countries like Ethiopia – and India, and Malawi, and many others – are working to make sure every family benefits from the expertise of these frontline health workers.
Together, we’re gathering momentum and saving children’s lives. That’s why Bill and I called for the next ten years to be the Decade of Vaccines, a major effort to discover, develop and deliver new and existing vaccines, and we are now working with the global community to make this happen. Moreover, by expanding delivery of the vaccines we already have, over the next 10 years we can give millions more children a shot at life. I know that, together, we can reach this goal.
Learn more from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on vaccines
Read more from Melinda Gates