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Vaccine ImpactSeptember 2, 2021

Vaccines: A Source of Hope to Those in Poverty (SDG Blog Series)

Vaccines offer a solution is overturning the cycle of poverty, protecting children against fatal diseases and allowing families to spend on other essential resources.

Created in 2015, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 goals that serve as a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. Shot@Life’s mission to increase access to lifesaving vaccines helps achieve Goal 3 — ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages — but it doesn’t end there. In this blog series, we will explore the interconnectedness of the SDGs, and how addressing access to global immunizations is also linked to addressing the other key global goals. 

SDG 1: No Poverty

One out of five children in the world lives in extreme poverty. When a child lives in poverty, they usually do not have regular access to quality education, healthcare, shelter, and food. Living without these essentials threatens a child’s development and limits their opportunities. 

Before COVID-19, global poverty rates were cut by more than half since 2000. Still, 10% of the world’s population still lives in extreme poverty (measured by living on less than $1.90 per day). The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened poverty and for the first time in 20 years, poverty is likely to increase significantly. The World Bank estimates that an additional 88-105 million people will live in extreme poverty by the end of 2021. 

SDG 2: Zero Hunger

Hunger is the top cause of death in the world. Unfortunately, hunger rates are on the rise worldwide.  

In 2019, close to 750 million people (nearly one in ten people in the world) were exposed to severe levels of food insecurity, and about 2 billion people did not have regular access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food. Children are especially affected by hunger. In 2019, 6.9% of children under five years old were undernourished. When children do not get enough healthy, nutritious food, they experience health problems like weakened immune systems and stunted growth.  

SDGs 1 and 2 are ambitious, yet necessary. Ending poverty and hunger are both essential for children to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. 

Connectedness of Global Health, Poverty, and Hunger 

Many studies have shown that there is a link between poverty, hunger, and poor child health. When a child has poor health and experiences hunger, they miss school or can perform poorly, which later makes it difficult for them to work and support their families. Poor child health can also cause lasting health effects such as paralysis from polio or weakened lungs from pneumonia. Long-term health effects can last into adulthood, making it difficult to find work and gain financial security.  

This cycle is perpetuated: poverty also leads to poor health, since people in poverty disproportionately lack access to clean water and sanitation, medical care, and safe working environments. Therefore, poverty and hunger cause poor health, and then poor health contributes further to poverty and hunger. 

Vaccines: A Source of Hope to Those in Poverty

The poverty cycle is difficult to overcome, but vaccines offer a solution. By vaccinating children, we are protecting them from serious and even fatal diseases. When families don’t have to worry about their children getting sick, they can spend their resources on other essentials. Vaccinated children are much more likely to live healthy and meaningful lives and have a better chance of breaking out of the cycle of poverty. 

SDGs 1 & 2 are both essential for creating a healthier and more equitable world. These goals will undoubtedly require better health systems. Shot@Life Champions not only advocate for vaccines, but also for better global health systems, which will help give everyone, especially children, a shot at a healthier and better future.  

To learn more about how you can advocate for global immunization programs, learn how you can get involved as a Shot@Life Champion and register for our upcoming Mobilize to Immunize Conference

Lauren Steensma