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UNA-USA Nationwide Conference Call: Efforts to Fight Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

August 22, 2011
Efforts to fight vaccine-preventable diseases were the topic of a UNA nationwide conference call last month, featuring  former Senator Robert Bennett, Republican of Utah, co-chair of the UN Foundation’s new Global Vaccines Campaign, and Peg Willingham, its executive director.  Former Senator Chris Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, is also a co-chair of the Global Vaccines Campaign. The call, moderated by Roger Nokes of UNA-USA, focused on a measles vaccination campaign trip to Mozambique to inoculate children earlier this summer.

The United Nations Children’s’ Fund (UNICEF) estimates that 20 percent of children born each year do not receive the necessary lifesaving immunizations, putting them at risk for preventable diseases and premature death. UNICEF has called for $15 billion in additional resources to save more children from vaccine preventable deaths. The United Nations Foundation is answering this urgent call by creating a new campaign to support global childhood vaccines by raising awareness and resources in the U.S. to support the work of the UN and other key partners to immunize children in developing countries against vaccine preventable diseases like measles, polio, pneumonia and rotavirus. The campaign will build on the UN Foundation’s 13-year commitment to the Measles Initiative and Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

The call included a web portion to view slides from Senator Bennett’s recent trip to Mozambique. 

Senator Bennett:

    I appreciate the opportunity of being with you all and I know the United Nations Foundation greatly values the alliance that it has with the United Nations Association and we appreciate the support of committed global citizens like those of you who have tuned-in on this call.

    I do have slides to go along with this presentation. If you do not have an opportunity on your computer to view the slides, I’ll try to make what I have to say as comprehensive as I can so that you’ll get the drift of where we’re going.

    I recently had the opportunity to travel with the UN Foundation and the American Academy of Pediatrics to Maputo, Mozambique to observe the national measles immunization campaign. This slide is an aerial view of Maputo. This is one of the three poorest countries in the world.

    The U.S. ambassador told me that in developing countries measles still kills nearly 200,000 children a year. Children who do survive sometimes are left blind, deaf or brain damaged, so this is a serious problem. Tremendous progress has been made in recent years in driving that number down from the 750,000 that it used to be.

    It’s through a partnership called the Measles Initiative, which includes the United Nations Foundation, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the American Red Cross, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The immunization campaign was advertised throughout Mozambique to make sure that 3.6 million children under the age of five would be vaccinated. The goal was to do this within a five-day period. That’s very ambitious and I was very impressed with that.

    The campaign’s effectiveness depended on mothers knowing when and where to take their children to get them vaccinated, and for that you needed signs, banners and radio announcements to help spread the word.

    And this poster is one of those banners that did it. It’s called National Health Week and it says bring your children under five years of age to the health center for a measles vaccine, Vitamin A supplements and anti-parasite medication.

    The volunteers who helped spread the word had cards around their neck on lanyards that duplicated this poster. They were about the size of a 3-by-5 card and would help to identify the volunteers that were working on the campaign.  Mozambique’s Prime Minister Aires Ali launched the vaccination campaign in a big event involving local and regional government officials, international agencies, diplomats and an awful lot of local schoolchildren.

    I practically got mobbed by the children as they came along until the teachers showed up and took control. The government’s support for immunization is a key factor in Mozambique’s success. This is a picture of Prime Minister Ali giving Vitamin A drops to the first baby in line.

    And I was honored to have the opportunity to speak at the campaign launch along with Prime Minister Ali, to talk about America’s support for the people of Mozambique in the fight against vaccine-preventable diseases.

    The delivery of vaccines is a crucial aspect of the successful immunization efforts in the developing world, but they do not administer themselves.

    This is a photo of the health workers the day before the campaign launched. They’re gathering up supplies and preparing to drive the long distances to remote rural areas. There were over 350 stations scattered around the country that they had to cover.  We happened to be at this particular center and watched them loading the trucks on the day before the campaign.

    One challenge is that vaccines have to be kept cold. They’ll be useless with just a few degrees difference in temperature, and in a country like Mozambique, that is a particular problem.

    They have to have proper temperature control every step of the way. They call this the cold chain and it helps ensure that the vaccines are safe and effective. There is a special label on the vaccine vials that will change colors if the vaccine has not been kept cold so the healthcare worker knows to discard that vial.

    The vaccine is administered by syringes, and they’re designed for a one-time use to make sure they won’t spread disease.

    The Vitamin A drops and the deworming pills are given orally to the children. The polio vaccines can also be administered orally, which has helped bring almost an end to polio cases worldwide.

    The children were more willing to accept the oral medication than they were the syringe. So the nurse would give the children the oral first and then bingo, here comes the stick in the arm.

    Records are very important. Extensive records are kept by the local government officials to document and monitor the immunization of each child in order to track the percentage of children vaccinated at the national level.

    In addition to the records that go to the national record center, the mothers are given their own shot record to ensure the children receive the necessary booster shots and adhere to the proper immunization schedule.

    The mothers were very diligent. We observed them as they received their vaccination record and took care of it. No one seemed to forget or lose this particular document, and it was very gratifying to see that degree of diligence on the part of the mothers.

    The process called social mobilization starts well in advance of a campaign like this, because people have to know that the vaccines are coming. There were thousands of volunteers that participated in this effort, including the Red Cross and the LDS church volunteers.

    They were all over the country and on campaign days, the volunteers and the health workers would use bullhorns and walk through the villages to remind the parents about the campaigns.

    Mothers in Mozambique walked up to 15 miles to have their child vaccinated. I don’t know how they knew where all of the places were, but wherever we went they were there.

    This is not a health clinic in this photo, it was just a tree. The mothers showed up under the tree, which gave them a place to have the healthcare workers and the vaccines.  Somehow among the villages they knew which tree to go to. It was really quite exciting to drive through the countryside for miles and miles seeing nothing and suddenly there was a clearing and a tree with 25 mothers.

    And it always seemed to stay at about the same number. As soon as the people would get vaccinated and move on, there would be another 25 mothers standing there ready.

    They also used the schools to deliver the immunization and the vitamin A supplements. Here you see the children lined up for the supplements at a local school.

    These girls are probably showing off their fingers, because when you got the vaccine, the fingernail on their pinky fingers were marked with indelible ink. It was a bright purple, which would ensure that every child received a proper vaccination.

    In this photo, they’ve stopped crying about having their arms pricked and are showing off that everybody was properly vaccinated and walked away with a purple finger. Thanks to the immunization efforts, these children are going to have a shot at a healthy life.

    Measles-related deaths in Africa have plunged more than 90 percent since 2001, but 90 percent is not good enough. There’s still work to do, and that’s why we were there and that’s why I’m proud to serve as the co-chair, along with Senator Chris Dodd, of the UN Foundation’s Global Vaccines Campaign.

    The work that I saw in Mozambique is happening all over the world, supported by the United Nations and other partners, and with the support of the American people we will help reach the goal of a worldwide measles vaccination rate of 98 percent by the end of 2012, and eliminate measles worldwide by 2022.

    It was a great experience and a great trip. I come back not only with the memory of all the great work that the health workers and the United Nations Foundation did, but with optimism and hope for the future, just like the people have in Mozambique.

    I’m prepared to answer any questions.

Roger Nokes:

    Thank you, Senator Bennett. The slides were perfect. Before we go to the Q&A, we’ll ask Peg Willingham from the United Nations Foundation about the Global Vaccines Campaign. What is the campaign and what will it work on?

Peg Willingham:

    Roger, thank you and many thanks to everyone who’s been on the call. I have to say it was really a great experience to go with Senator Bennett to Mozambique, and it was in part to recognize the work that’s already been done by the Measles Initiative, but also to help us prepare for what we hope will be a very successful new public awareness campaign that we’ll be launching this fall.

    The United Nations Foundation has worked with partners on polio and measles for just about all of the 13 years we’ve been in existence, but we also have successful public engagement campaigns around malaria and bed nets called Nothing But Nets, and more recently a campaign around the empowerment of adolescent girls called Girl Up. So, the Global Vaccines Campaign is the newest initiative in a series of UN Foundation public awareness campaigns.

    We want to engage the American public to help close the funding gap. Senator Bennett mentioned that one child in five in developing countries still does not have access to these vaccines. The measles vaccine only costs pennies a dose but in some countries these children still don’t have access and their lives could be saved with a greater access to vaccines. We also want to engage the U.S. Congress and Executive branch in support of vaccines.

    We wanted to give a sneak preview for UNA members and others on this call to let you know about this exciting new development and new effort here at the United Nations Foundation.

    I also wanted to recognize that we have some of the partners from Lions Clubs on the phone and I know at some point they may want to say a few words about the terrific work that they have done with the Measles Initiative, including the kind of social mobilization that Senator Bennett mentioned and, of course, they have members around the world who are engaged in supporting this work.

    So we’re both happy to take your questions and other comments.

Roger Nokes:

    I want to ask about the social mobilization. Peg, both you and Senator Bennett mentioned how this network of NGOs and individuals is used to get people out to have their children vaccinated, but does this network also help in fighting the misinformation or myths about vaccines in some of these areas?

Peg Willingham:

    I have to say that there actually is very broad support as witnessed by what Senator Bennett said about mothers walking up to 15 miles to bring their children for vaccinations. I think parents in countries where these diseases are still killers are very motivated to bring their children for vaccination.

    The groups that are involved in the social mobilization play a very important role by providing accurate information and helping the parents to get to the health posts to get the vaccines, the vitamins and the deworming medication for their children.

Peter Lynch:

    Peter Lynch here from Lions Clubs International. First of all, thanks to Senator Bennett and Peg Willingham for allowing us on the call to share some of our news about the Measles Initiative. We’re really excited about it.

    People may not think of Lions and measles, but we have a lot of natural affinity for it.

    First of all, measles is still a leading cause of childhood blindness so it’s something we care very much about being the leading charity involved with sight issues around the world.

    Secondly, we’re doing a lot of things in areas where measles is happening. We treat river blindness and trachoma, and deliver cataract surgery in often the same communities where measles immunization campaigns need to take place or need to be strengthened. We’ve had success in the first year we got involved, including doing pilot projects in four countries. Lions have been involved with community mobilization and getting political leaders in those countries to follow through on their financial commitments.

    We were involved in Mali, Madagascar, Ethiopia and Nigeria this past year and with the help of all the Measles Initiative partners, we were able to help turn out 41 million children for supplemental immunization campaigns, but we’re not stopping there.

    This year we hope to launch an aggressive fundraising campaign to mobilize upwards of $10 million or more for the Measles Initiative through the United Nations Foundation; and secondly we’re going to be expanding into more countries such as India, Bangladesh and other countries in Africa to get Lions involved on the ground and get the communities out for the campaigns.

Roger Nokes:

    Thank you, Peter, for all your work on the Measles Initiative. We can now start taking some questions in queue.

Art Sutton:

    I am from the Pomona Valley Chapter UNA.  How can chapters be involved in a formal way?

Roger Nokes:

    There’s nothing formal yet, but Peg, is there a way that chapters of the United Nations Association can participate or help out in the Global Vaccines Campaign?

Peg Willingham:

    Absolutely. Actually that’s one of the things we were hoping to do on this call, to kind of whet your interest in helping us support vaccines for the developing world.

    We are planning to do some city tours next year. Right now, we have funding for three years for this campaign and a big part of our campaign is to go nationally and engage with communities around the country to get them interested.

    This is not meant to be just a Washington or New York effort, so UNA chapters who are interested in working with us please feel free to contact Roger Nokes at membership@unausa.org.

    We also plan to do advocacy. That’s going to be an important part. There will be opportunities to encourage the U.S. government to ensure there’s sufficient funding for vaccines. For example, sending petitions or letters that UNA members have already been terrific about and supportive.

    We know that this is really a tough time. Everything in the news these days is about trying to close the huge budget gap that we have in this country. However, one thing that we know for sure about vaccines is that they’re so cost-effective. It’s such a cliché that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But it really is, and you see it in these developing countries.

    One of the places that Senator Bennett and I visited was at the end of a dirt road. It really was a long ride and in the rainy season it’s totally inaccessible. The health unit was just a mud hut with a chair and a cardboard box with a few supplies. The vaccines there really leveled the playing field for those children who probably are never going to make it to a hospital if they get sick.

    We’re hoping that even in a tough economic environment to be asking our government to spend money that they will, because we think this is actually a best buy. So advocacy will be important.

    We really welcome your suggestions and when we get closer to the campaign we will share more information about the campaign through the UNA network to get your views and input and other ideas that you might have. We really think this will be a great kind of co-creation effort.

Roger Nokes:

    We have one question coming in pertaining to the vaccine program in Mozambique. The individual asks what age group or what age range was covered or eligible for these vaccines in Mozambique?

Senator Bennett:

    They did not vaccinate children under six months. They figured that - I’m not a doctor so I don’t know what that means in terms of the development of the child – from six months up to five years. There were some mothers who had children younger than the six months, but they were not vaccinated. They were just there with their mothers as they brought the older children to be vaccinated.

Ginger Stillman:

    I worked in West Africa, so I do have a feeling for what you were seeing and the needs. My question is have you had any feedback since the issue hit the press that the CIA was actually using the measles vaccinations campaign as a method for going after Bin Laden? I wonder whether anybody has had any negative feedback from that for the overall initiative.

Peg Willingham:

    I have to say it’s something that the vaccine community was really distressed about when it was in the news. We were afraid that it would discourage people from getting vaccines, and there’s been quite a lot of press coverage.

    Obviously, we don’t really know the whole story or the facts behind it, but from what we’ve seen in the press, we can understand how that would be likely to cause problems in a place like Pakistan, where there already has been distrust and where they’re one of four countries that still has an polio endemic. The transmission has never been interrupted, so I think people were pretty disappointed or taken aback that this might affect uptake of future vaccines.  But here at the United Nations Foundation, we haven’t really heard anything about it from the World Health Organization (WHO) or UNICEF, but I imagine they’re trying to figure out how to respond.
    
    Again, that’s where the social mobilization comes in and why people need to get the right information out. So this will probably make it a little more complicated.

Ginger Stillman:

    I was concerned also in relation to Nigeria, because Nigeria is a difficult setting and I think that there has been some backlash.

Peg Willingham:

    You’re right that Nigeria is a place where there was some misinformation about what polio vaccines might or might not do to children.

    And there’s been a great effort, and I think a very successful effort there in the last five or more years where political leaders and religious leaders and again, a lot of social mobilization by volunteers throughout the country, has really made a big difference to get people back to vaccinating their children.

David Tuckman:

    I am the UNA USA San Fernando Valley Chapter President. My question is what role has the Red Cross played in the Measles Initiative fundraising and awareness in the U.S. and on the ground in developing countries?

Peg Willingham:

    The Red Cross is an extremely important partner in the Measles Initiative and they do a lot of the leadership work on the Measles Initiative in partnership with WHO, UNICEF and other supporters.

    A portion of the money that the American Red Cross raises for the Measles Initiative comes through disaster relief funding, because when people are displaced by natural disaster or other calamities, measles is highly infectious. One infected person can infect a vast number of people really quickly.

    But the American Red Cross also has chapters around the country - I think there are 600 or 700 chapters in the U.S. – who participate in fundraising efforts in different parts of the country.

    The American Red Cross also has a very nice partnership with the National Basketball Association and with a few celebrities to try and drive awareness and interest.

    In our new Global Vaccines Campaign we plan to support the work of the American Red Cross on measles and the work of Rotary International on polio, and also support vaccines that have come out in recent years to combat diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia, which kill a few million children a year.

Naiara:

    I’m from Brazil. Do you have any information or have you had any activity in Somalia, because there has been recent information that humanitarian organizations have been welcomed back in that country recently. So is there any plan to do such campaigns in Somalia in the near future?

Senator Bennett:

    I know that the United Nations Foundation does not have plans to travel to Somalia. However, I believe that Somalia and the semi-autonomous region of Puntland are currently in the middle of a 5 day measles campaign in partnership with UNICEF and WHO.

Roger Nokes:

    What types of things can be done in conflict-ridden areas such as the Democratic Republic of Congo or even areas of Sudan?

Peg Willingham:

    When I mentioned the one children in five statistic, and Senator Bennett mentioned that there are children who still don’t have access to vaccines, well one of the main reasons is because these children are in conflict areas.  That’s why, for example, the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is one place where there are still a lot of polio cases.

    There are also countries that have had a lot of internal conflict, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is one of the few countries that have rolled-out new vaccines for pneumonia or diarrhea. So, it is actually possible in some of these countries for warring parties to lay down their arms to enable vaccination campaigns to take place.

    It is a very positive story on an international and domestic level that people are willing to realize that children should get access to vaccines in spite of conflict, which certainly complicates the ability of humanitarian groups, health ministries, and others to get out and reach these children.

Senator Bennett:

    There’s no question that the support of the government in Mozambique was one of the main reasons why we were as successful as we were.  The backing of the government from top to bottom made it possible for all of the volunteer groups to do their job without any fear or difficulty, and that’s what we obviously hope will be the case in every country.

    Mozambique had 20 years of civil war, so it was a battleground for a long, long time.

    We hope as things get settled, we can be among the first to go in once the conflict does settle down with these kinds of humanitarian missions.

Linda Mast:

    I’m from the Chicago chapter of UNA, our student chapter at Robert Morris University, and I’m wondering if the city of Chicago is part of your planned city tours?

Peg Willingham:

    It’s definitely something we’re looking at. We’ve just had two other campaigns visit Chicago, so it’s obviously really an important place for us. We’re still finalizing our plans because there are just so many different places we’d like to go, but our budget will limit us. We’d be absolutely interested in following up with you and hearing more about the students’ engagement.

    We think that the primary target audience for our campaign is likely to be parents of young children, mothers in particular, who tend to be the ones who make more of the healthcare decisions in families and  as a result might be the ones we would aim a lot of our campaign messaging.

    We also think that young people and students will be an important audience. I think this is the most global and altruistic generation in human history, so we’re hoping to get them excited about this campaign.  I had the good fortune to speak at a model UN event at Michigan State University in March to about 500 high school students, and they seemed very interested in the campaign.  I also believe the East Lansing UNA chapter was there as well.

 Dick Blakeney:

    Hi, this is Dick Blakeney from the Seattle chapter. I have worked with ministries of health in a number of different African countries.

    Could you say a little more about the role of the Mozambique Ministry of Health, health centers or health posts and also community health workers? My second question really is whether you have further plans to go to additional countries as well?

Senator Bennett:

    The Ministry of Health was extremely important to the Mozambique effort. They trained volunteers and provided the right number of professionals to monitor what was going on.  Every place we went, there would be someone from the Ministry of Health surrounded by volunteers.

    It was the kind of example that you hope will come to pass and will be followed in other places where the Ministry of Health takes the lead. However, the local populations step forward regardless of who their sponsoring organization may be in order to supplement those efforts.

    I’ve described the challenge of keeping the vaccine properly cold, and keeping proper records. The Ministry of Health in Mozambique was pivotal in all of those activities.

Peg Willingham:

    Regarding your question about other countries applying for participation for these kind of Measles Initiative supported programs, in theory, measles vaccines should get to every child through routine immunization, and in an ideal world, they shouldn’t need vaccine campaigns.

    Unfortunately, even in a really well-intended country like Mozambique, where there’s really only one major paved road in the country, children in very rural remote areas just couldn’t get to the vaccines or vaccines don’t get to them when they should.

    A few years might go by, more children are born, and then the country falls below the ideal level of enough children receiving the measles vaccine. The country doesn’t want to have an outbreak so that’s when they decide to do a mass campaign and make sure they vaccinate all the children between six months and five years of age.

    The country’s health ministry will apply to UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) who jointly implement part of the campaign through the Measles Initiative.

    Senator Bennett showed the picture of the healthcare worker with the handwritten registry where they scrupulously keep the vaccine data. They also put this data into computers so they can show how many children have been born, how many have been vaccinated, and how many more need to be vaccinated.

    The country has to show that they have enough volunteers and enough staff. They also have to show that they’ve picked the right time of year. For example, it wouldn’t work in the rainy season, because you couldn’t get around the country.

    If a country can demonstrate the need and the ability to do a campaign, generally speaking the Measles Initiative tries to have enough money to do it, but again they do have a funding gap and that’s something we hope to close through our new campaign.

    Then for the newer vaccines, a country would apply to something called the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, or GAVI Alliance, an organization that partners with the World Health Organization and UNICEF and other groups to finance these newer vaccines.

    I mentioned the measles vaccine is just a few pennies a dose.  However, these newer vaccines might sell for $100 a dose here in the U.S., and even though the manufacturers heavily discount these vaccines for developing countries, sometimes they are more expensive than developing countries can afford.

    So, the country will apply for funding to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization as well.  If a country can show that they’re ready to support these new vaccines and the Ministry of Health can do a good job; and again if there’s enough funding, they should be successful.

Cathy Horvatt:

    Hi, I’m from the United Nations Association of Utah and my question is what city tours are like? We’ve never had one here.

Peg Willingham:

    A city tour is when we travel to a city and have several events at one time involving as many partners as possible to raise awareness and attention around an issue.

    For example, with our malaria work, we have some wonderful partnerships with the United Methodist Church and the Lutheran Church and also with UNA chapters in some of the areas we’ve visited. We also have a partnership with the National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer around Nothing But Nets.  So, we try to go to a place where we can get as many different partners involved as possible and get a lot of people to come to these events.
    
    With our campaign, it depends on the partners we attract frankly. We’re really in the middle of the process of working with new partners and seeking new partners and then figuring out where we can find places where we can get as much media coverage, and as much engagement of volunteers and potential donors and hopefully political support as possible. We also try to engage local members of Congress.

    But we have heard that Utah UNA chapter is very active, and that Utah is a place with so many people who’ve served overseas. So if you’re interested, we’d love to follow-up with you.

David Rubinstein:

    Hi, this is David Rubenstein with the Best Shot Foundation, which builds public support for mostly vaccination programs and to help that become political will.

    So my question is for Senator Bennett, in this time of difficult budget issues, but nonetheless seeing the great need for funding for GAVI and other vaccination programs, what do you see as a mechanism for building public support and then for building political will to actually fund these programs?

Senator Bennett:

    I wish I could give you an encouraging view of what’s going on in Congress right now about funding.

    Everybody seems to be so preoccupied with the whole question of the debt limit that the appropriations process is simply bogged down. Now when it starts up again, as I’m sure that it finally will, the case can clearly be made that vaccines are one of the most efficient and effective foreign-assistance expenditures that we make.

     And I think it’s also probably one of the least controversial. When I was on the appropriation subcommittee that handled all of this funding, I always supported this and I never got any political flack for doing so. I think the funding probably will be maintained.

    We hope it will be more than maintained. We hope it will be increased, but given what’s not going on in Washington right now, I can’t give you any kind of time table as to when this thing will really straighten itself out and start moving forward.

Trevor:

    This is Trevor from the Seattle chapter and I just wanted to ask the Senator, as well as Peg, can you talk about the importance of the cooperation of the Mozambique government in making the measles campaign a success?

    And I was wondering if there are any particular features about the governance style of authorities in Mozambique that you might care to flesh out a bit more in terms of its role in making this program successful, and to what extent is that transferable to other areas in Africa?

Senator Bennett:

    I’m not enough of an African expert to give you any idea as to how the Mozambique government compares. As I said earlier, Mozambique has had 20 years of civil war and as I talked to various people in Mozambique, it was clear that was a very, very difficult time.

    And one of the reasons that they have the sense of optimism to which I referred, is that as poor as they are by comparison to what they went through during the civil war, they now look upon life as being really much, much better and look forward to the future with a sense of hope.

    I think it was very important that the Prime Minister was involved. The fact that he showed up at the opening of the campaign and gave a rousing speech in favor of it and went out of his way to make clear that the government as a whole was behind it. That’s always very helpful in any governmental structure when the head of state is willing to be that public in his support.

    We saw first-hand that kind of support from one area to the next as we moved around. We didn’t just stay in the city by any means and witnessed government officials at every level being supportive. I think that is absolutely crucial as well.

Peg Willingham:

    I don’t want to pose as an Africa expert, but I have been to a few other countries and I was really struck favorably by Mozambique.

    They have a sense of solidarity and they’ve made children’s health a priority and as Senator Bennett mentioned, we were able to speak with folks at the American Embassy and they commented on how impressive it is that the government has made health and children’s health a priority.

    So, it’s a question of political will as Senator Bennett said. I also managed to speak with the Canadian Ambassador, because Canada also provides support to the Measles Initiative. He had served there as a foreign assistance official from the Canadian International Development Agency 20 years before and had seen the terrible devastation after the war. He said it was encouraging to see the kind of optimism Senator Bennett mentioned earlier.

    Comparisons are odious, and I won’t name countries, but I’ll say there’s at least one large country in Africa that has a lot of petroleum and a lot of resources and yet they have not done as good a job on vaccination as a poor country like Mozambique.

    One of my colleagues was in this particular country a few months ago and said that they had to provide incentives for parents to bring their children to get the vaccines. He had asked the parents why they were getting the vaccines, and they said it was because they were given soap and lentils. There’s nothing wrong with doing that, and certainly if people are going to have to give up a day of work or a come a long way, it’s not unreasonable to provide incentives like that.

    However, in Mozambique, women were walking 15 miles for no other reason than to get their child a measles vaccine, so it was really special. It would be great to see these efforts replicated elsewhere, and I’m sure there are good things going on in other countries, but Mozambique really was a striking experience.

Lori Faultbite:

    Hi, I’m with the Marin County in California UNA chapter. I also work a lot with RESULTS and they worked closely with their members of Congress to get the political will developed to help with the replenishment of the GAVI fund earlier this summer.

    And I’m really excited to hear too that you’re planning on doing some city tours and help spread the word. I’m hoping you’re going to come to the West Coast.

    We’re planning a film event with a UN traveling film festival. Maybe we could pick a film that tells a good story about the promising work of vaccines or just public health in general and work with you on getting that event together, or maybe come up with something else as well, so thank you.

Senator Bennett:

    Let me just say when I first got to the Senate, one of the first groups that got a hold of me was RESULTS.

    They educated me on the issue of micro-credit and looking back on my time in the Senate and on the Appropriations Committee, one of the things I am proudest of was the amount of money made available for microloans, which went up something like six times higher than it had been before I got there.

    And no matter how much I pushed, the RESULTS people were asking me to push some more. So you’ve joined an organization that has demonstrated that it knows how to get things done and one with which I had very good relations the whole time I was in the Senate.

Peg Willingham:

This is one of the many reasons we were so excited to have Senator Bennett co-chair our campaign.  I have very positive memories of him speaking to the RESULTS conference last year and we know he’s so committed on these issues. RESULTS, as you said, played a great role in getting more funding for these newer vaccines.
    
    We’ve been working closely with RESULTS as part of a coalition here in Washington supporting more funding for vaccines and they have been absolutely terrific in that and so we’re really glad to work with them.

    Regarding the film festival, if you could send a note to Roger and he will connect us, because we’d certainly like to see if we can figure out a film that could be part of your festival. That would be terrific!

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