Boniface was coughing and struggling to breathe and so his mother, Christina Banda, took him to the nearby clinic first thing in the morning. There she was told she needed to go to the Makion Health Center to get help. Because her husband was away at the market she knew she’d have to go by herself, on foot, carrying Boniface on her back.
The remote and hilly farming region of Salima in eastern Malawi where Christina and Boniface lived was 25 kilometers away from that health center. It would be a long walk.
Four hours into her journey, Boniface started crying. Christina thought he was hungry, so she took him off of her back to feed him. Suddenly he stopped moving and she knew he had passed away. Boniface was only 11 months old.
Eleven months. Boniface could still be here if he’d had the pneumococcal vaccine. Christina plans to make sure her other children get the vaccine, but if she doesn’t have access to it, how do we make sure she doesn’t have to face another walk like that one?
I haven’t been in Christina’s situation. My children have had illnesses, to be sure, but not ones that were life threatening and could have been prevented. I can’t imagine being as close to the clinic as Christina was, walking all that way to make sure her sweet boy would be okay, only to have him die in her arms so close to help. There’s not a single story I can tell you of my experience with motherhood that even comes close to being similar to Christina’s. Not one.
Malawi recently added pneumococcal vaccine into its routine immunization program, but countries with more resources need to ensure they have access to the vaccine and can get it to the villages that need it. Remember that thing you did last August where you commented like crazy and helped saved the lives of TEN THOUSAND CHILDREN?! Blogust? We need to keep the pressure on, and a simple email to Congress can do just that!
Here’s a reminder of why so many of you were willing to act:
- Vaccines are safe, simple and one of the most cost-effective ways to save and improve the lives of children worldwide.
- Vaccines work.
- Vaccines currently help save 2.5 million children from preventable diseases every year.
- Vaccination efforts have already made a difference. Thanks to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the number of new cases of polio has dropped 99 percent and the Measles Initiative has vaccinated one billion children in 60 developing countries and has decreased measles deaths by 71 percent.
- Vaccines can level the playing field so that all children, no matter their circumstances, have a shot at a healthy life.
It’s so simple. Use your voice and make an impact for another mother, one you’ll never meet but who the hell cares because she’s a mother. Shot@Life has made it easy for you — all you have to do is click here and fill out a simple form and your message will be sent to Congress lickety-split.
The impact of vaccines on the lives of children around the world is incredible. Now, you can help sustain the impact by sending an email to your member of congress. Welcome your members to the 113th Congress and ask them to make sure that global health and vaccines are a priority in the new Congress. Take action and make an impact!
This story comes from The GAVI Alliance and is part of Shot@Life’s ’28 Days of Impact’ Campaign. A follow up toBlogust to raise awareness for global vaccines and the work being done by Shot@Life and their partners to help give children around the world a shot at a healthy life. Each day in February, you can read another impactful story on global childhood vaccines. Tomorrow, don’t miss Suzanne Chan’s post! Go to www.shotatlife.org/impact to learn more.
Photo Credit: The GAVI Alliance