Just two drops. That’s all the vaccine it takes to save a child from polio – and lifelong debilitation.
Now, more than ever, I feel so lucky to have been able to vaccinate my own two boys against polio, and yesterday, I did the same for a 5-month old baby girl in the Gaschiga district of Garoua, Cameroon.
I had the honor of representing the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign during the launch ceremony of Cameroon’s new national polio vaccination campaign, which will help 2 two million kids get vaccinated against polio and other diseases over the next three days alone. I’m so happy that I could play a small role in it and make a few (small) friends along the way.
Peter Yeo gives a child the polio vaccine in Garoua, Cameroon on April 29th, 2013.
This brand-new immunization campaign, which is a joint effort of Cameroon and UNICEF, with strong financial and technical support from the U.S. government, will prevent tens of thousands of Cameroonian children from being struck by polio. Plus, it’s also being used as an opportunity to ensure that more kids get Vitamin A pills to help combat and prevent the effects of chronic malnutrition, including blindness.
As children just over the border in Nigeria continue to be infected with polio, vaccination campaigns like this one are absolutely critical to preventing the crippling disease from re-establishing itself here in Cameroon – and beyond.
With that in mind, what happened at the Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi last week is all the more exciting: More than $4 billion was pledged towards a new six-year global polio eradication plan. Thanks to the historic pledges from governments, civil society, and philanthropists like Bill and Melinda Gates, more than 1 billion children will be vaccinated through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
That’s exactly the kind of global commitment we need to get rid of polio once and for all. Cameroon and UNICEF’s new vaccination campaign is a perfect example of what it can accomplish – and is one more piece of evidence that the U.S. and the UN are working closely together to promote vital health initiatives and American interests around the world. I can’t wait to see what our partnership achieves next.
Stay tuned for more from Cameroon!
Photo credit: Peter Yeo, April 29th, Garoua, Cameroon.