Vaccines - a "Best Buy" for Global Health
March 26, 2014 BY Lee Orr
Last week, I attended the "Best Buys for Global Health" event at the Center for Global Development. The two hour conversation, led by panels of global health experts and industry leaders, was attended by various NGOs as well as representatives from the public and private sector.
As we are all aware, vaccines have long been considered a global health "best buy," given their return on investment. For just $20, a child is fully immunized – preventing him or her from deadly and disabling diseases like polio, pneumonia, measles, and diarrhea.
I expected the majority of the panelists' conversation to be focused on cost-effective public health commodities such as vaccines, bed nets, and contraceptives, but I was pleased to witness a robust conversation about strengthening health systems worldwide.
To make the world's health systems more inclusive and effective, all of the panelists agreed that the global health community needs to work together to improve infrastructure, invest in better technology, secure increased funding, and change public opinion about the value of these efforts.
After discussing all of the changes that need to be made in order to improve health systems, UNSEO COO Dr. Mark Grabowsky asked his fellow panelists: "What do we do while we're waiting to build the system?"
His suggestion- continue with the systems already in place.
His example- vaccination campaigns in northern Nigeria, one of those "hardest to reach" places that has yet to eliminate polio.
In the future, mothers and children will benefit from a better system, but for now, the obvious and immediate answer to the "best buys" question is to continue providing access to life-saving vaccines.
Shot@Life works closely with our implementing partners to ensure that vaccines continue to save children's lives. Through existing systems, we've seen incredible progress in Millennium Development Goal #4. Since 1990, the number of deaths of children under age five fell from 12.6 million to 6.6 million in 2012. This is incredible progress, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
One of the global health community's key tasks is to strengthen our collective voice. The stronger our will to ensure the most lives saved, the more effective our global health system.
With our voices as Champions for Shot@Life, we can all help to ensure every child has a shot at a healthy life.
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