BY YESMAN ANTOH –
NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS- UNICEF WOULD on April 24 launched the new global campaign aimed at emphasing the power and safety of vaccines among parents and wider social media users.
The campaign will run alongside World Immunization Week from April 24 to 30 spreading the message that together communities, including parents, can protect everyone through vaccines.
#VaccinesWork has long been used to bring together immunization advocates online. This year, UNICEF is partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to encourage even greater reach.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will contribute USD$ 1 to UNICEF for every like or share of social media posts using the hashtag #VaccinesWork in April, up to USD$1 million, to ensure all children get the life-saving vaccines they need.
Statistics available revealed that vaccines save up to three million lives yearly, protecting children from potentially deadly, highly infectious diseases such as measles, pneumonia, cholera, and diphtheria.
Thanks to vaccines, fewer people died from measles between 2000 and 2017 and polio is on the verge of being eradicated.
In Ghana, deaths due to vaccine preventable diseases have reduced and in some cases, eliminated. Since 2008, Ghana has not reported a single confirmed case of wild polio and no death has been recorded due to measles since 2003.
Vaccines are one of the most cost-effective health tool ever invented – every USD$1 spent on childhood immunization returns up to USD$44 in benefits.
UNICEF’s Chief of Immunization, Mr. Robin Nandy said “We want the awareness that #VaccinesWork to go viral adding that vaccines are safe, and they save lives.”
Mr. Nandy aid this campaign is an opportunity to show the world that social media can be a powerful force for change and provide parents with trustworthy information on vaccines.”
The campaign is part of a global, week-long celebration under the theme, ‘Protected Together: Vaccines Work, ‘to honor Vaccine Heroes from parents and community members to health workers and innovators.
The Interim Director of Vaccine Delivery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ms. Violaine Mitchell said “more children than ever before are being reached with vaccines today,”
“We are delighted to work with UNICEF and all the global and country partners around the world who are working tirelessly to ensure all children, especially those in the world’s poorest countries, can be protected from life-threatening infectious diseases,” Ms Mitchell stated.
Despite the benefits of vaccines, an estimated 1.5 million children died of vaccine-preventable diseases in 2017. While this is often due to lack of access to vaccines, in some countries, families are delaying or refusing to vaccinate their children because of complacency or skepticism about vaccines.
This has resulted in several outbreaks, including an alarming surge in measles, especially in higher-income countries. Uncertainty about vaccines on digital and social media platforms is one of the factors driving this trend.
BY YESMAN ANTOH, NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS, BUSINESS & POLITICAL, GLOBAL CORRESPONDENT