Lois Privor-Dumm

By Lois Privor-Dumm. We’ve all heard these words: “There is tremendous need here at home,” or “money in Africa has been wasted for so long.”   This is why this simple video from the ONE campaign struck me. Through a public health lens it is a no-brainer: of course you want to spend on cost–effective interventions that will save lives.  For others, while they admit that it is an admirable goal, the connection is not made.  In times of financial uncertainty, we have to be more careful with our money, don’t we?

One of the best and prudent ways to invest though, is in future generations.  In the US, we provide all of our children the best chance at life, with fewer worries about preventable, devastating disease.  Imagine what that kind of security could do for a family in Africa.  Healthier children in Africa would be able to stay in school.  Families would worry less about the all too common diseases of pneumonia and diarrhea, and their devastating costs.  Rather than accepting the fate that their children may fall ill, they would be thankful that new vaccines are being made available.  Throughout the years, as healthcare improves because of our investment, so would income and productivity. Our investment would return to us through a country’s improved stability, better governance, and more – and all directly relate to our own security. 

The introduction of a new vaccine is not something taken for granted in the developing world.  Up-to-date immunization cards of young children are among a family’s prize possessions.  Throughout Africa, pneumococcal vaccines, once deemed far from the reality of any African village are now being introduced and are offering hope.  Rotavirus vaccines, helping prevent one of the most deadly forms of diarrhea in young children, may soon also be a reality across Africa -  all for a relatively small fraction of the US budget.  How often do we have a chance to save so many lives with such an effective and minimal financial commitment?  Four million lives over a five-year period is a pretty good return on investment!

Let’s make wise investments

Next month, the GAVI Alliance will be holding their pledging conference to encourage donor countries like ours to contribute to providing the most basic and effective prevention.  Please tell President Obama and your local leaders that you care.  Sign the ONE petition, and tell your friends and family to do so. The more they hear from you, the more they know this is an investment we as Americans care about.  Do it for their future – and ours.

Photo credit: Adrian Brooks, Imagewis

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