As we observe the seventh annual World Pneumonia Day, individuals and organizations from around the world are coming together once again to raise awareness about pneumonia and make sure that every breath counts.
Pneumonia is a Leading Killer
Each year there are approximately 900,000 deaths in children under the age of five from pneumonia across the globe.
While 51% of these deaths occur in only 6 countries, pneumonia isn’t just a threat to children in third world countries. The CDC reported that pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of hospitalizations and deaths in U.S. adults, costing more than $10 billion in 2011 alone.
Many factors contribute to pneumonia, and so there are many ways we can work to help prevent, treat and control this disease. Consider the following five simple but effective interventions.
Vaccines are Key to the Fight Against Pneumonia
Vaccines against whooping cough (pertussis), measles, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and pneumococcus can all help reduce the incidence of pneumonia. However, for many of the world’s population, the issue is one of access.
As Dr. Orin Levine, Director of Vaccine Delivery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation explains in his Huffington Post article,
“Thankfully, 132 countries have introduced a vaccine to protect against pneumonia. In fact, it was within months of the first World Pneumonia Day that the very first developing country—Rwanda—rolled out the pneumococcal vaccine with support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. In addition, the world’s 73 poorest countries have all introduced the pentavalent vaccine—which protects against Hib, another major cause of pneumonia—again with Gavi support.”
While this is amazing progress, Dr. Levine goes on to explain that an estimated 51% of the world’s infants live in countries that do not offer access to pneumococcal vaccines. Of course, getting vaccines to these children must be a top priority. Read more…
Never underestimate the determination, creativity and problem solving capacity of an aspiring global health student.
This month we’ve been featuring guest posts by several of our summer interns who have specific interests in global health and immunizations. Today we share a story of another global health student, Lauren Braun, who spent the summer of 2009 as an intern in Peru following her sophomore year at Cornell University. The challenges she observed in getting children timely immunizations inspired her to design a low-cost and innovative product that she hopes will one day be used by moms all over the world.
The idea came after Lauren spent the summer working at a Ministry of Health Clinic in Cusco, Peru. Part of her day was spent going out and looking for moms who had children that were due for their immunizations. Despite the fact that the health clinic offered free vaccines, and mothers clearly acknowledged the importance of vaccines for their children’s health, many of the moms were forgetting to bring their children in for their vaccines when they were due. So Lauren came up with a creative idea to help that was eagerly embraced by the nurses.
In the video below, Lauren explains how she designed a simple silicone bracelet that moms could use to remind themselves of their children’s vaccination dates. The way it works is that there are different numbers that represent the age that the child should be brought in to the clinic (2 months, 4 months, etc.) and also different symbols that represent the different vaccines. When a child is brought to the clinic, a nurse would hole-punch the bracelet to indicate which vaccines have been administered, leaving the symbols for those vaccines that were still needed in the future. Not only are the bracelets highly customizable to the needs of a local culture, they are also waterproof, durable, comfortable, baby-safe and can be designed to be worn up to four years of age. Beyond the physical reminders that these bracelets represent, they are also a great way to increase general awareness about the vaccines that are recommended throughout childhood.
In order to expand on her idea, Lauren created a non-profit company, Alma Sana, Inc., that received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The funds helped Alma Sana produce the bracelets and complete an initial research study with 150 moms that were followed for six months. But she’s not stopping there.
The organization is now ready for a Phase II study that will roll the program out to 5,000 moms that they will follow for a full year. They’ve already lined up partners in Nigeria, Pakistan and Colombia, in hopes of gathering the evidence they need to determine how effective the bracelets are, and with what populations the bracelets work best with.
This is a pretty big undertaking, and the reason why Alma Sana is currently looking to raise $100,000.
When parents skip or delay vaccines, whether it is intentional or not, they leave their child vulnerable to disease for a longer period of time. Learn more about this initiative to ensure kids get timely immunizations all across the globe and contribute to their fundraising campaign here.
To help Alma Sana, Inc. fulfill their objective of getting children timely vaccines, please tell your friends, family, and colleagues about the campaign and encourage them to make a contribution. You can even follow their progress by liking Alma Sana, Inc. on Facebook and following them on Twitter.
Please share other innovative immunization campaigns in the comments below so that we can continue to highlight programs that are in need of support here on our Shot of Prevention blog.
I woke up today and realized that tomorrow is September 11th. Of course, this date conjures up a variety of emotions for me. From horror to heroism, to prayer and patriotism. Having a friend who died in the Twin Towers, and a husband who has served several tours in Afghanistan, it’s easy to see how the events of that historic day have made an indelible mark on my life.
In the days following September 11, 2001 I spent a great deal of time contemplating the massive loss of life and what we could’ve done to prevent it. As devastating as these atrocities were, I had to acknowledge that senseless tragedies day around the world, killing and maiming thousands of innocent people. But sadly, we often fail to do what may be necessary to prevent such loss. Since most of us rarely encounter loss on such an enormous scale, these tragedies are often overshadowed by what we consider to be more pressing concerns.
However, on this anniversary of September 11, 2001, I ask you to consider more.
Almost two years ago, in an effort to expand my immunization advocacy efforts, I became a Shot@Life champion and pledged to improve global vaccine access by educating, connecting and empowering Americans to help protect children in developing countries from vaccine preventable diseases. When I learned that millions of children die every year from vaccine preventable diseases – one every 20 seconds – I could only hope that my efforts to reduce these deaths would be successful. As in the days after September 11, 2001, I simply wanted to help.
Years ago I was moved by the way in which people responded to the loss and devastation of September 11, 2001 so I’m hoping people will extend that same level of compassion to others who are in need today. Following the fall of the Twin Towers, the burning of The Pentagon and the fiery crash in a field in Pennsylvania, Americans joined together to help those who survived and comfort those who had suffered the loss of their loved ones. Today, I challenge everyone to give in another way. Read more…
But would you comment more if you knew that for every comment you made someone would purchase a life-saving vaccine for a child?
How would you feel knowing that your comments are helping to give children around the world a shot at a healthy life?
Well, wonder no more.
Thanks to a generous donation from Walgreens and the amazing collaboration between the Shot@Life campaign and 31 special bloggers, we introduce Blogust ’13. In a blog post entitled “Passing the Torch”, Shannon Carroll explains how her involvement with Blogust last year resulted in 10,000 children being vaccinated. Now, as Blogust ’13 launches today the impact is expected to be even greater.
Every day in August, a writer will share a story about a young person who is important in their life or an experience of their own at a certain age. On August 1st, a 1-year-old’s story will be shared; on August 2nd, a 2-year-old; and so on, every day throughout the month. For every comment on any of the 31 posts, Walgreens Pharmacy will donate a life-saving vaccine (up to 50,000 vaccines) to give children around the world a shot at life.
As we mark the first day of National Immunization Awareness Month, we invite you to read, share, and comment on as many of the select Blogust ’13 posts as you can throughout the month. And if you need a subtle reminder, sign up to receive an email here which will provide you with the daily links to the newest Blogust post.
It’s really that simple. With Walgreens matching each comment with a vaccination for a child, be sure to comment every day and ask others to do the same. One comment = one vaccine and the potential to change a child’s life for the better. So, what are you waiting for. The first post is already up and waiting for you here.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) promoted Vaccination Week in the Americas earlier this year with a campaign entitled “Vaccination: A Shared Responsibility.” Their philosophy – that each and every person has a part to play in fighting vaccine-preventable diseases – is best exemplified through their partnership with a new vaccine advocacy program called Vaccine Ambassadors.
The concept of Vaccine Ambassadors revolves around a child receiving care from a doctor here in the United States. At the time of their visit, they’re offered the opportunity to become a Vaccine Ambassador, giving a small but meaningful monetary contribution to help fund vaccines for children in other countries.
Jackie Kaufman, RN, MN, the co-founder and Executive Director of Vaccine Ambassadors, began the organization in hopes of making a profound impact on the lives of others, and providing an opportunity for others to do the same. Her extensive background in women’s health and adult medicine, coupled with her experience with the UNC Public Health School’s Global AIDS Project, took her to areas where she saw, first hand, the needless suffering of children.
“I was shocked to discover that kids continue to die of diseases that many healthcare providers in the United States have never even seen, such as measles – something that has been preventable for decades.” Kaufman explains.
She started to talk to other parents. Conversations on soccer fields, playgrounds and schools convinced her that parents, once aware of this inequity, shared her passion and commitment to do something. But what?
Jackie began with a ‘doctor within borders’ concept, expanding on the idea that doctors could participate in a global health initiative without leaving the walls of their practice. Reflecting on her belief that one of the greatest gifts one parent can give another is a healthy start at life for their child, the Vaccine Ambassador program is designed to be a convenient, affordable and tangible way for providers, parents and children in the U.S. to give the gift of life-saving vaccines to children in other countries.
The initial pilot program consists of ten pediatric clinics in NC, with plans to expand nationally. Read more…
In our discussions about vaccines it’s always exciting to hear about scientific advancements that are improving our prospects for preventing illness. From vaccines that can help with addictions, to vaccines to prevent HIV. From vaccines that are delivered via a patch, or those given through a mist up the nose. Each day new scientific discoveries are made that may help improve the health of people all across the globe.
But when it comes to global vaccine distribution we’re still facing one stone cold reality. In order for worldwide immunization programs to be successful, we must establish reliable distribution channels which include individuals trained to administer the vaccines, as well as efficient storage and handling systems that deliver the vaccines from the manufacturer to the people who need them.
Because all the vaccines in the world wouldn’t prevent a single illness if they weren’t properly handled before being administered.
Having recently returned from a visit to the desert, it’s easy to understand the challenges we face in maintaining a proper cold chain supply. Fortunately, a revolutionary vaccine storage device, designed by Global Good, may be the solution we’ve been waiting for.
Global Good, which is a collaboration between the Gates Foundation and an innovative lab called Intellectual Ventures, has been working on a Passive Vaccine Storage Device in hopes of addressing the current cold chain challenges. Their latest cooler-like design is capable of holding routine vaccinations for more than 200 children for up to 35 days. Not only will it revolutionize the cold chain supply, but it has the potential to save millions of lives. This new device, which has been in design for the past four years, has been described as a high-tech version of a coffee thermos. But according to Wired, there’s quite a lot more to it. Read more…
As a mother and blogger, I can’t imagine anything more motivating to my advocacy efforts than to have the opportunity to hear actor, mother and Every Child By Two Ambassador to the Shot@Life campaign Amanda Peet speak about her commitment to vaccines this past weekend.
There have been many times when I have wished to be a celebrity. Not for the fame and fortune (thought undoubtedly that would be nice), but for the simple fact that celebrity status often affords one the luxury of an audience. And no doubt, Amanda Peet had an interested audience. Even if she wasn’t talking about what many would have expected.
In a session entitled Random Acts of Impact: The Power of Giving Back, Amanda, along with four other impressive women panelists, addressed a group of highly influential social media moms and women entrepreneurs at the Mom 2.0 Summit in California on Saturday. She explained how she uses her celebrity as a platform and is working to bring awareness of the importance of childhood vaccines. She emphasized how powerful it would be if others would also use their social media platforms to help promote immunizations and the Shot@Life campaign.
Her words were passionate, but what really spoke volumes were her actions. Amanda talked about how she began working with Every Child by Two on their Vaccinate Your Baby campaign over five years ago. At the time, Amanda was expecting her first child. While others were using their celebrity status to question the safety of vaccines, Amanda decided to take her questions directly to the medical experts and look at what the science had to say. After having her many questions answered and discovering various reputable sources such as the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Every Child By Two, she realized just how important it was for children to receive all their recommended vaccines and she decided she that she wanted to help get the message out to others. Read more…