As COVID-19 spreads throughout the world, immunization efforts must continue to prevent outbreaks of other diseases and their deadly impact. Maintaining routine childhood immunizations is critically important during the pandemic. We must safeguard children from increased risk of vaccine-preventable diseases. Our collective attention may be on the development and distribution of the coronavirus vaccine, but it does not erase the pervasive need for immunizations in third-world countries like Mali.
The WHO reported in 2018 that childhood vaccines save an estimated 2- 3 million lives worldwide and they substantially contributed to the reduction of the infant global mortality rate. We also know that many of the diseases that kill children in Mali are entirely preventable with only 45% of children in Mali receiving basic vaccinations and 14% receiving no vaccination at all. We can share research, statistics, and reports on why childhood immunizations in Africa are so important, but what really matters is the solution. What is to be done and how are we going to do it?
At the Ouelessebougou Alliance, our approach is very simple and can be summed up in one word: PARTNERSHIP. We partner with the Malian government and Ouelessebougou hospital to distribute routine vaccinations in areas that normally wouldn't receive them. Our goal is to reach as many children as we can. We work in 25 partner villages and we make sure that not only do they can have access to vaccinations for free. That means the vaccinator from the hospital will travel to these remote villages and work with our resident Health Agent to ensure that every child in need receives an immunization up to the age of 5 years old.
For many of us in different parts of the world, we may not think twice about when or how our child will get immunized. But in rural Ouelessebougou, this is not something the mothers take for granted. Many did not even understand the importance of routine vaccinations until the Alliance started training them. Others would not have the financial means to pay to travel to the hospital or pay the fee to vaccinate their child. We are humbled and grateful that our donors make it possible for us to distribute over 15,000 vaccines each year.
Please remember the need for immunizations in Mali -- and thank you for supporting this project. If you know of anyone else looking for a worthy cause, please consider sharing this report with them.
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