Edited to add: Thank you all so much. I’m overwhelmed by the response here. This campaign continues through August 31, and all comments through that date count for a $20 donation, so please keep commenting!
Little known fact: My undergrad degree is in Environmental Health Sciences, including coursework in Food Microbiology, Human Parasitology, and Epidemiology and Immunology. I sketched dust mites and mosquitoes, grew Petri dishes of C. botulinum, and spent a semester at the county public health department, while interning between classes at an 8(a) minority-owned environmental consulting firm, taking samples for lab analysis and helping organize a Clean Air Act compliance effort at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Then the Air Force decided I ought to work at the Pentagon, and I haven’t done a lick of environmental or public health work since.
But my interest in the topic remains, and that’s one reason why I’m so thrilled to be part of the Shot@Life Blogust: Blog Relay for Good. Shot@Life is a United Nations Foundation initiative that promotes vaccines as one of the most cost-effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries.
We face many public health challenges in the United States, but they pale in comparison to those of other countries around the world — particularly countries without effective leadership or infrastructure to ensure basic public health care needs are met for their citizens.
I recently read Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa. It’s an in-depth study of the political, economic, and social factors that have troubled Africa for decades, but most recently in the last 15 years with the genocide in Rwanda and the movement of refugees across the Congo. It’s a complicated and tragic history in which the UN and non-profit groups such as Doctors Without Borders have worked to address public health issues, particularly in the refugee camps.
The political entanglements and related human rights violations cannot be solved with mere foreign aid, but we can help give more kids a fighting chance by vaccinating them. Perhaps we unconsciously minimize the role of vaccines in public health because they have become a given for us. We no longer see vaccines as the immense weapon against disease that they truly are. Instead we focus on all the problems that are beyond our reach as individuals, perhaps even beyond our reach as a nation.
We can choose to feel helpless in the face of monumental problems in developing countries, or we can do something seemingly small, yet ultimately significant.
I opened comments because of this effort. Now I’m asking you to comment. Because each comment equals a $20 donation to vaccinate a child in a developing country against measles, polio, pneumonia and meningitis caused by pneumococcal bacteria, and diarrhea caused by rotavirus. $20 for four vaccines.
To be clear, all you have to do is leave a thoughtful comment. You don’t have to donate anything except your words. The United Nations Foundation and their donors will do the rest.
I accepted the blog relay baton from Ilina Ewen, and I’m passing it to Gina Carroll tomorrow. There’s 31 of us posting this month, and you can leave a comment on every single post — each one means $20 to vaccinate a child.