'Shot@Life' for children through immunizations
It's easy. Send a link to the story you were just reading to a friend. Just fill out the form on this page and we'll send it along.
A United Nations-sponsored initiative to eradicate measles and other endemic diseases around the world was introduced in Salt Lake City on July 11, where it recognized and honored the Church's past efforts in this regard.
The "Shot@Life" campaign is conducted by the United Nations Foundation to spread the word that "timely vaccination is one of the simplest and most effective ways to give every child a healthy shot at life."
Fred Riley, manager of special projects for the Church's Humanitarian Services, was part of a five-member panel discussion held at the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum. The panel also included Robert F. Bennett, former U.S. senator from Utah and a co-chair of the effort; Devi Ramachandran Thomas, campaign director; Chrysula Winegar, mother, blogger and campaign supporter; and Aaron Sherinian, vice president for communications and public relations at the U.N. Foundation, who conducted the discussion.
"Vaccinations are a proven way to end preventable childhood deaths around the globe," said Mrs. Thomas, who noted that the campaign builds on the U.N. Foundation's success of the past 13 years in partnerships in the measles and rubella initiative and the global polio eradication initiative. "Because of strong immunization programs by the U.N. and others, there are only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic. That's Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria."
She emphasized three countries, because as of this year, India is no longer among the countries beset with the endemic. "As the daughter of Indian immigrants, I can tell you that's something I say with a great deal of pride."
The campaign director gave special thanks to the Church. "Their extensive work on measles and other global immunizations is an inspiration to us all."
In introducing Brother Riley, Mr. Sherinian thanked the Church, "for not only being the largest organization with the largest financial contribution to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations, but also being an organization that donates and inspires the contribution of hundreds of thousands of hours toward this important initiative."
Volunteers from the Church donated more than 766,000 hours around the world since 2003, he said. As a recent example, he said that Church members through Internet messaging in Ghana made sure that mothers and their children got access at the right time and the right place to vaccines.
Brother Riley said the Church since 2003 has provided $15.9 million to the U.N. Foundation and others in forwarding the effort.
"But what the Church brings to the table more importantly, we believe than actual money, is a way to organize people around the world that does health education to get the word out, number one, that immunizations are going to happen, but as important, to help people understand the need for those immunizations," Brother Riley said.
Leaders can organize Church members to go into rural areas especially to spread the word. As a result, in many countries the immunization rate is between 95 and 100 percent, he said.
He identified the Church's objectives as being to assist the measles partnership in saving children's lives, to teach Church members and others that "true volunteers" serve without expectation of compensation, and to build sustainability in local health systems.
"We have a huge interest as a Church in helping our members learn and follow the precepts of Jesus Christ, and certainly one of those is to help their fellowmen," Brother Riley said.