Lois Privor-Dumm

By Lois Privor-Dumm. Building attention for long-standing but important problems is not always easy. Even when a disease is recognized as the leading child killer, gaining the attention of the public and our leaders to fighting it is easier said than done.   But that’s where creativity can be a big help.

A few of months ago, IVAC’s  Executive Director, Orin Levine, recounted a joke he read in Eric Asimov’s New York Times blog. “What is the difference between a case of pneumonia and a case of Syrah?  You can get rid of the case of pneumonia.”

Next thing I knew, Orin’s wheels were spinning.  He issued a challenge to America’s Syrah producers:  How can we turn this into an opportunity to raise awareness and build support to defeat this leading child killer?  Public health stakeholders often suffer by limiting discussion of important issues to the ‘usual suspects’ – professionals within their own community. 

Bringing in new partners has long been a goal – and here we had a whole new opportunity.  Why not engage America’s wine makers?  Doing so offers the tremendous opportunity to engage those that love wine in the cause.  After a weekend of throwing out ideas to family and friends, we came back and discussed as a group.  What have we got to lose? Orin issued a challenge on his Huffington Post blog and lo and behold –Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines stepped up to the plate, offering to bring in the Rhone Rangers, America’s leading non-profit organization dedicated to promoting American Rhone varietal wines.. And so began the idea of wine partnerships.

In staying with Eric Asimov’s original blog, we’ve developed a promotion to help increase sales of Syrah.  Participating members of the Rhone Rangers will offer $10 for every case of Syrah sold during the month of November (in honor of World Pneumonia Day, November 12) to the GAVI Campaign.  A donation of just $10 can protect a child against multiple causes of pneumonia.  It’s a win-win scenario.  People get to try great wines, and help protect children in the process.  Now that’s something to raise a glass to!

So now, an invitation for you.  Please be my guest from 6-8 pm on Monday, September 20 at the New York Times Center for Pneumonia’s Last Syrah. The event, held in conjuction with the UN Summit on Millenium Development Goals, will include a wine tasting with 12 wineries and moving photo exhibit judged by Nick Kristof of The New York Times and Ann Curry of The Today Show.  Please be sure to RSVP, as space is limited.   

I look forward to meeting you as we enjoy great wine, help bring attention to the problem of child pneumonia, and celebrate the new partnership that is a win for all us, especially the children of the developing world.

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