• Dan Thomas

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  • Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas
    Former Head, Media and Communications, GAVI Alliance

    12 June

    The Great, the Good, the Glamorous ... and Ghana

    The Great, the Good and the Glamorous are gathering in Washington DC this week to talk about some really big issues affecting the world’s poorest and most vulnerable children and adults.

    Anyone who is anyone in Global Health and Development is in town.

    Nobel prize winner President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Malawi’s President Joyce Banda top the bill at the Frontiers in Development Conference from 11-13 June and Hillary Clinton will kick things off at the Child Survival Call to Action from 14-15 June.

    Mandy Moore, Christy Turlington Burns and Ben Affleck will add a little glamour but also a ton of heartfelt commitment. And, only slightly less exciting if you are a “development insider”, members of the GAVI Alliance Board will meet at the Capitol Hilton from 12-13 June to review progress since the historic GAVI Pledging Conference one year ago when generous donors made unprecedented commitments to childhood immunisation.

    Of course, everyone is wondering if President Obama might even make an appearance? Now that would really help focus attention on important subjects like child and maternal mortality in the world’s poorest countries.

    To raise awareness about the huge number of children who die before they reach the age of five (7.6 million in 2010) (and because they are good sports), many of these global health advocates have sent photographs of themselves taken when they were five to USAID’s excellent new website.

    Even the media are getting in on the act with the likes of Judy Woodruff and Ray Suarez from PBS, Femi Oke of WNYC and CNN’s Kaj Larsen bringing professional TV-style moderation in order to keep the debates focussed and strategic.

    And as they sit in their various sessions at the Hilton and Georgetown University, The Great, the Good and the Glamorous will no doubt all be discussing and wondering “What does success really look like?”

    It’s a big question. But fortunately I know where they can find one answer at least.

    It’s in this short film produced by GAVI about Ghana’s ambitious and unprecedented introduction of two vaccines at once – vaccines that have the power to help protect against the two diseases that kill more of the world’s children before they reach their fifth birthday than any others.

    So if, like so many people, you occasionally feel overwhelmed by the problems facing children and parents in the world’s poorest countries, I encourage you to watch this film. It’s guaranteed to vaccinate you against despair and give you some hope.

    Dan's blog also appears around the web at: ONE.org  

  • Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas
    Former Head, Media and Communications, GAVI Alliance

    13 April

    Tragedy, hope and raw determination!

    Have you ever been to the movies and seen a trailer for a film that you previously had no interest in seeing and then suddenly thought to yourself, “That is a film I CANNOT MISS”?

    That was the idea behind GAVI’s most recent production. It’s a three-minute film by a talented young American film maker called Ryan Youngblood that I stumbled across in Kigali one day and I think he and producer Doune Porter more than fulfilled their brief.

    On April 26, during WHO’s first-ever World Immunization Week, Ghana will introduce not just one but two new vaccines into its immunisation programme.

    The pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines will protect infants against the leading causes of the two biggest killers of children in Ghana and throughout the developing world – pneumonia and diarrhoea.

    The GAVI Alliance and our partners UNICEF and WHO are working with Ghana’s Ministry of Health to plan a massive celebration in Accra at which the first children will be vaccinated.

    On the same day, halfway across the world in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, our friends at the UN Foundation will be launching the Shot@Life campaign to encourage the American public to champion vaccines as one of the most cost-effective ways to save children’s lives around the world.

    It’s such an exciting time to be working in global health and, as more and more power brokers embrace the value of investing in people’s health, we are literally seeing progress across the world on a daily basis.

    As you can imagine, back in Ghana our colleagues are feeling more than a little pressure and this film brilliantly captures the careful, methodical planning process that is involved in introducing new vaccines into the national health programme.

    It also portrays the skill, wit and energy that Ghanaian health professionals are investing in this extraordinary initiative.

    Like the best movie trailers, our little film has all the right ingredients to make you want to know what happens next: handsome men, beautiful women, tragedy, suspense, despair, hope and raw determination!

    It is also available in French and German.


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