Around the world, there is a vast network of volunteers working directly with children and their families to support immunisation, alongside official health providers.
These “Lions” – members and leaders of the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) – play a unique role as a bridge between the community and the government, WHO, UNICEF, civic leaders, clergy, and other partners involved in helping many kinds of vaccines work.
Recently, Lions jumped into action to support one of the world’s largest ever immunisation campaigns in Indonesia, which aims to vaccinate 70 million of children and young people against both measles and rubella. Here Lion Jono Koesmo, the Lions Council Chairperson in Indonesia, and LCIF’s Ben Futransky discuss why their involvement in the campaign is so important.
BF: What does this measles rubella campaign mean to the overall health of Indonesia? What outcome are you aiming for?
JK: It means a lot to Indonesia. As President of Republic of Indonesia Joko Widodo spoke during the launch on the 1st of August 2017 at Yogyakarta, currently only 230,000 Indonesian children between 9 months to 15 years old are protected. That’s only about 0.35 % of all those who need vaccines. Measles and rubella immunisation campaigns this year and next are targeting at least 95% of those children who otherwise would go without. After that, the government will conduct a routine immunisation for babies 9 months, 18 months and 2 years old. With this, the government is hoping that Indonesia will be free of measles and rubella by the year 2020.
BF: What is the greatest challenge for local Lions right now?
JK: To be able to help the government with this MR campaign, in particular by publicising that it’s coming. We’re trying to reach families through social media, websites, radio, video-trons, fliers, seminars, as well as by visiting schools and urging religious leaders and local governments to spread the word. We’re trying to build awareness of the dangers children face if they do not receive these vital vaccines.