Over the last month or so, my work as a Shot@Life Advocate for the UN Foundation’s campaign at vaccinating children in the world’s poorest countries has lead me to become active working with another impressive global advocacy group called Results.  Results is a grassroots organization lead mainly by a huge group of volunteer advocates who share one main goal:  An end to poverty around the world.  Their mission is “to create the public and political will to end poverty by empowering individuals to exercise their personal and political power for change”.

The vision of Results is:

“….of a world where the devastating impacts of poverty no longer cripple the ability of individuals and families to sustain themselves and contribute their talents to the world in which they live — where all people have a fair chance at success. But it takes citizens pressuring their leaders for effective anti-poverty programs to receive the attention, policies, and funding they need.”

Little children we met along side the road. Photo: Stuart Ramson: UN Foundation

Most of the training of the volunteer activists is done over the phone via conference calls.  However, at the end of July Results is having their big International Conference in Washington DC and I am attending. We will be doing a few days of intensive training followed by an actual call to advocacy and a march on Capital Hill. I’ve never participated in this kind of activism before and am really looking forward to it.

In the meantime, Results activists like myself are working on advocating the Child Survival Call to Action, a plan by nations to help end preventable childhood deaths around the world. I’ve written to my members of Congress asking their support of this act and have also submitted several pieces to the newspaper, none of which have been printed. (Never realized how difficult it is to get an Op-Ed or Letter of the Editor accepted in a paper. But that doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying!). Here is my recent piece that gives you an idea of what we are fighting for.

A mom just coming off the field where she had used the hoe to get dinner on top of her head. And the four year old is carrying a machete on her head. Photo: Stuart Ramson UN Foundation

US Leadership is Paramount to Saving Children under 5 around the world.

The end of the school year and the onset of summer is always filled with bittersweet feelings. It means fun, jam-packed days, spending time at the beach, the cabin or together as a family, have finally arrived. Yet it also means that another precious year of childhood has simply passed us by, making us scratch our heads wondering where on earth the time has gone.

As Americans we are truly blessed to have these milestones in our lives that mark and celebrate the true essence and joy of raising children.  However, many parents around the world are not so fortunate.

As a volunteer and advocate for the UN Foundation’s campaign Shot@Life, I strongly believe it is critical for the United States to support  the Child Survival Call to Action. Thirty years ago UNICEF launched a Child Survival Revolution – a focused effort to reduce the number of young children dying from malnutrition and disease. At the time, 14 million children under the age of five died every year around the world – 40,000 per day. We’ve now cut that number in half and are within sight of eliminating preventable and treatable childhood deaths due to new vaccines and advances in distribution of care.

Exciting things are happening at the moment in global health policy, and now is the time to act at preventing unnecessary childhood deaths.  Last week, the World Health Assembly met in Geneva where it adopted two measures to improve the health of children around the world. One, the Global Vaccine Action Plan, has the potential to save over 20 million lives by 2020 by ensuring that every child enjoys the full benefits of immunization. The other declared the eradication of polio an emergency for public health, because despite great progress reducing polio by 99%, the global community has not been able to eradicate it once and for all.

On June 14, leaders from around the world will attend the Child Survival Call to Action in Washington, D.C., to identify the smart investments that can be made to end preventable child deaths. New innovations like vaccines against pneumonia and diarrhea and renewed commitment from countries like Nigeria and India mean that ending preventable childhood deaths is finally an achievable goal.

The time is now for the United States to support global vaccine funding and other programs that will give every child the chance at the healthy life they deserve no matter where they live.  As someone who is dedicated to ensuring that every child deserves the basic human right to a 5th birthday, I sincerely hope the US takes the lead by supporting the Child Survival Call to Action. My daughter is off to Kindergarten this fall.  I want more parents to celebrate this wonderful milestone.  We can make a difference and the time to act is now.


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