CC Chapman, advocate and storyteller
In April of 2012, I found myself in Accra, Ghana to celebrate the country-wide rollout of two new vaccines that would save thousands of children’s lives.
Two years later, last week in Washington DC, came a real opportunity to share the stories I heard in Accra with the attendees of the AYA Summit, a meeting to discuss challenges facing women and girls across the world.
Readers of this site might be surprised to learn that not enough people know about the work that Gavi does; many have not even heard of it. With replenishment on the horizon, I really wanted to make sure that the audience understood exactly how important this was and what they could do to help.
In doing this, I was not alone. I was joined on the panel by Ruth Abaya (American Academy of Pediatrics), Mike Henry (US Senate), Natasha Bilimoria (Gavi) and moderated by Gargee Ghosh (Gates Foundation).
CC at the AYA Summit last week. Photo: Jennifer Bragg/Gavi.
The audience was made up of mostly parents, so the topic of vaccines is one they are familiar with. As story after story was shared about how different it is for parents around the world where Gavi helps, you could see on their faces how little they knew about this important and vital work.
While there were facts, figures and stories shared by all on the panel, there was one that really stuck with me and I had to ask for more information because I couldn’t leave it unquestioned.
This was it: the United States is the fourth largest supporter of Gavi in the world.
I’m very proud that our country leads by example and supports Gavi as much as they do, but something about being fourth bothered me. It did even more when I heard that the second biggest contributor is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The work that the Gates Foundation does is remarkable, but it feels strange to me that a foundation is donating more than most countries. Surely, more countries can step up and pledge more this go around.
So at the end of the panel, I issued a challenge to the room full of influential do-gooders to help get Gavi replenished.
The plan was to have everyone tweet to The Whitehouse and encourage our followers to do the same – that way, they couldn’t hide from the importance of ensuring that Gavi can continue to do great work.
Over the course of the following twenty-four hours, hundreds of tweets were sent and they continue to pour in today. Click here to send your tweet!
A child waits to get vaccinated in a Ghanaian marketplace. Photo: Gavi.
I saw firsthand how important Gavi’s work is to the health of our world. Children are being given a shot at life that they might not get without vaccines. Parents are empowered with the knowledge of why vaccines are good for their families and it is one less thing they have to worry about in their lives.
Two years ago, I had only just heard of Gavi, but now I can’t imagine a world without them. Please join me and all my fellow AYA Summit attendees in encouraging the US government and all governments around the globe to pledge their support to Gavi.