On family trips to India as a young girl, I remember seeing kids by the roadside who looked just like me, unable to walk or play because they had been afflicted by polio. Globally, one in every five children do not have access to vaccines, and it is just a twist of fate that separated my life from the lives of those children.
As a young pediatrician working in South Sudan, 164 children died under my care, most from diseases preventable by a vaccine. I felt the daily frustration of telling parents again and again that there was nothing I could do to treat their child, when in fact something could have been done. These children should have been vaccinated.
We need to help ensure that all children get the vaccines they need to save their lives, and now is as urgent a time as ever. A polio outbreak has emerged in Somalia and Kenya that, if not contained, could lead to tens of thousands of children being paralyzed.
Whether it’s children at such great risk right now in Somalia and Kenya, or others like those whom I painfully lost, taking action now can help stop more children from suffering.
Congress has the power to help, and we must tell them it matters. All children, no matter where they live, deserve a shot at life.
Thank you for your help,
Gitanjli Arora, MD, FAAP
American Academy of Pediatrics