I was very happy to see that the U.S. has pledged support for the GAVI Alliance (a public/private global health partnership to immunize children in the poorest countries). Today, more than 30 common infectious diseases are preventable with vaccines.
By the end of 2010, GAVI-funded vaccines had prevented more than 5 million future deaths caused by hepatitis B, Hib (H. influenza type b), pertussis, measles, yellow fever and polio, as well as new vaccines against pneumonia, meningitis and diarrhea. And that’s not including millions more who would have suffered debilitating illness and/or permanent disability.
Aside from the fact that this is the right thing to do, it is actually in our best interests. Widespread illness and disability ravage a community economically, increasing political instability. In sub-Saharan Africa, women produce 60 to 80 percent of the food crops. They can’t effectively do that and tend to sick and dying children. Of the world’s 20 poorest countries, 16 have suffered a major civil war in the last 20 years.
Developing countries are a significant growth market for American exports. Immunizing kids is a win-win situation.