Last year I had the privilege of taking a trip to Guatemala with Save the Children. We visited a temporary health care outpost in the Vipecbalam community in Nebaj. These health care outposts have been built in remote locations offering families health care and vaccinations from trained community health care workers. Unfortunately, there are not nearly enough of these clinics available in developing countries; too many children around the world are still living with little to no access to healthcare.
At the clinic, mothers lined up with their children for the day long wait to receive vaccinations, vitamin A and treatment for sick children. While this clinic is indeed a blessing and very much needed, it only opens once a month. All the more reason why these mothers desperately need access to these life saving vaccines, to keep their children healthy!
I empathized with one mother in particular, she had a look of despair on her face as she held her baby boy who was showing signs of pneumonia. It broke me to see the little one struggle with fever, congestion and breathing issues. I had been in this mothers shoes when my son, Dominick, was very ill with pneumonia. I remember the fear and anxiety I felt as I watched my child deteriorate, he was so weak he could not walk, he would not eat and we struggled to get him well. I was blessed to have a doctor readily available to us 7 days a week who checked on Dominick daily. Within days of treatment and a visit to the hospital my boy was once again full of life and vigor.
While waiting and getting to know some of the moms at the clinic in Guatemala, I wondered what would have happened to my son had we lived there, I probably would have lost him. I am overjoyed to share that Dominick celebrated his 10th birthday yesterday but I mourn with the mothers who have lost children to pneumonia and other treatable illnesses from lack of health care or vaccines.
A new trial has found that pneumococcal vaccine is effective in preventing severe pneumonia, the leading cause of death among children in developing countries. One in five children does not have access to vaccines that prevent deadly diseases, like measles, pneumonia or diarrhea. All of these diseases are easily preventable with immunizations. 2.5 million children, under the age of 5 die every year as the result of infectious diseases. Nintey-nine percent of those children live in developing countries around the world.
As mothers, we have a common goal – we want to protect and nurture our children. We can help mother’s in developing countries keep their children healthy for only pennies a day!
This story is part of Shot@Life’s ’28 Days of Impact’ Campaign. A follow up to Blogust to raise awareness for global vaccines and the work being done by Shot@Life and their partners to help give children around the world a shot at a healthy life. Each day in February, you can read another impactful story on global childhood vaccines. Tomorrow, don’t miss Jenny Eckton, Formerly Phread telling her own story from Uganda! Go to www.shotatlife.org/impact to learn more.