Tracey Cheetham, Lindsay Atkin and I were on a mission to raise awareness of the huge gap in vaccines funding, which meant that millions of children worldwide were not protected against killer childhood illnesses, and that unbelievable numbers of them were dying needlessly as a result.
The summit was a huge success with world leaders taking just four hours to pledge $4 billion to help save 4 million lives. The mood was euphoric, all the people on-line and off-line who had supported us were blown away by the success of the campaign. I have spoken at conferences since avowing that one small voice can help to make a very big difference when we all put our voices together and call for action. I have spoken at my daughter’s school and I have watched young people’s eyes shining with the thought that they CAN help to change the world.
So – where are we one year on? It’s easy to say you’re going to do something but have those world leaders actually come up with the goods? Did we REALLY make a difference or was it all just hot air and hype?
The answer? A resounding YES! Feel free to punch the air as you read the following statement from Save the Children!
8.5 million more children protected against diarrhoea and pneumonia – thanks to breakthrough London vaccine summit
More children than ever before in history have received new life-saving vaccines against two of the world’s biggest killers, pneumonia and diarrhoea, thanks to the success of a global summit held in London last year.
Pneumonia and diarrhoea account for nearly one third of all child deaths globally. But with the roll-out of these vaccines, 8.5 million children will be protected against these common childhood illnesses across 9 countries. 19 by the end of the year.
The Global Alliance of Vaccines (GAVI) already helped to immunise children against preventable diseases like measles, tetanus and hepatitis, but up until the June 2011 summit, lacked the funding it needed to roll out the vaccines for pneumonia and diarrhoea - and other existing vaccines more widely.
In a remarkable result, in just four hours world leaders stepped up to pledge $4 billion which would help to save four million lives.
Save the Children has tracked the progress against each pledge, finding that not a single donor had reneged on their funding promises.
Justin Forsyth, Chief Executive of Save the Children said:
“Commitments made at summits are often treated with a healthy dose of scepticism. But our research shows that one year on from the London Vaccines summit, every single donor has kept their promise.
“We believe that in the last 12 months, up to a million children could have been saved by this UK-led initiative, showing the power that life-saving aid can have. The Prime Minister and Secretary of State for International Development deserve real credit for their leadership on this.”
Of course, there is still more work to be done, we are still calling for more healthworkers so that people in impoverished and remote areas can access these vaccines. Here’s Justin again:
“While the overwhelming story is one of success, more effort is still needed. In particular a new push is needed to make sure the poorest children get access to the vaccines they need and more support is given to fill the gap in the number of health workers needed to inject them.”
Save the Children is calling for the UK government to build on the success of the vaccine summit by using the Olympics and next year’s G8 Presidency to launch the biggest ever push on hunger and child malnutrition.
We helped to do that! Isn’t that amazing? Here’s a reminder of that amazing time and I beg you to please, PLEASE, keep on believing, keep on speaking out, keep on trying to make a difference.
With thanks to Save the Children for the Downing Street image!
PS As I was writing this something quite remarkable began to happen over on Twitter. The very lovely Merry over at Patch of Puddles was so moved by Sian’s account of her experiences in Niger with World Vision, and by the amazing things which have been achieved by the parent blogging community over the last two years, that she decided to get up and do something practical herself.
She called upon the community to put its money where its mouth is and made it very easy for them to do so. Go and read her post right now and if you can join in in any way, no matter how big or small, please do.
There is no them and us, there is only us. Something is better than nothing. Turning away is not an option. Watch this.