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submitted by Dagfinn Høybråten
11/29/2012 at 10:32

As I was writing my new book, my granddaughter of 6 asked me what I was up to. I am writing my book, I said. What is it on? She asked. On what grandpa thinks is most important. Do you know what grandpa thinks is most important? That the children may live, she replied with a big smile.

She is so right, and that is also the common goal behind the efforts of the partners working together in the GAVI Alliance: That the children may live.

What would it take to protect a child against five diseases with a single vaccine in a country like Haiti, which is still rebuilding after the devastating 2010 earthquake? Or to bring vaccines against pneumonia and diarrhoea, two of the biggest killers of children in developing countries, to places such as Pakistan and Yemen? Or to target Africa’s meningitis belt by reaching 100 million people less than two years into a mass vaccination campaign?

It takes partnership, and the belief that by working together those of us who are passionate about saving lives and improving health can accomplish much more than we could on our own.  Since 2000, GAVI has been able to save more than 5 million lives and will work to save an additional 4 million by 2015. This is possible by working as an alliance whose partners include UNICEF, WHO, the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, governments and pharmaceutical companies in the developed and developing worlds, research institutes, and civil society and advocacy organisations such as ONE and many others.

Next week, more than 600 global health leaders will come together in Dar es Salaam for the GAVI Alliance Partners’ Forum. The United Republic of Tanzania is the perfect place for this three-day event, which will include a dual introduction of pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines and discussions aimed at advancing access to vaccines and immunisation. In 2010 pneumonia accounted for 15% of child mortality in Tanzania, according to the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. And yet, according to 2011 estimates from WHO and UNICEF, Tanzania’s vaccine coverage rate against key causes of child pneumonia meet or exceed targets that if adopted worldwide could prevent two-thirds of child pneumonia deaths.

GAVI’s mission underscores the themes of the Partners’ Forum, which are Results, Innovation, Sustainability and Equity (RISE). Those who are unable to join us in Tanzania can follow the conversation on the GAVI website, where we’ll be streaming some of the sessions, and on Twitter at #GAVIpartners.

The results of our work lie not only in the number of lives saved or lives we hope to save but in the fact that an additional 370 million children in the world’s poorest countries now have an opportunity to grow up healthy and contribute to their communities. Innovation is at the heart of what makes vaccines one of the most cost-effective ways to save lives. GAVI uses several funding mechanisms to raise funds in international capital markets and stimulate the development and supply of vaccines to make them affordable for developing countries. By using these tools to shape vaccine markets and lower costs, countries are able to sustain their commitment to providing immunisation after they graduate from GAVI support. Even the world’s poorest countries take pride in contributing to the cost of their vaccines. This reinforces their role as equal partners in this effort. Equity drives a central goal of our work to dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes for vaccines to reach poorer countries after they’re introduced in wealthier countries. Just 20 years ago, this would not have seemed possible.

 I’m excited to journey to Tanzania for several days of discussion and be further inspired by what can be achieved when we come together in partnership.

For more information:

-- Tanzania tackes rotavirus and pneumococcal disease together.

-- A local pediatrician reflects on Tanzania's history-making dual vaccine introduction

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submitted by Jim Dobbin, MP
11/21/2012 at 12:06

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome World Toilet Day, an annual event which takes place on the 19th of November to highlight the fact that many people in the developing world lack access to a clean and safe toilet. This situation is so concerning that one in three women risks shame, disease, harassment and even attack because they do not have a safe place to go to the toilet.

As Co-Chair of the All Party Group for Child Health and Vaccine Preventable Diseases I have spent many years working to raise awareness of the burden of preventable diseases in the developing world. Speaking as a former microbiologist one of the issues which concerns me most is access to clean water and proper sanitation facilities. I know very well the effect that improved water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) can have in reducing child mortality in the developing world.

Despite the progress which has seen diarrhoea-related child deaths decline from 12 million to 7 million in the past two decades, diarrhoeal disease remains the second largest killer of children worldwide and is the most common cause of all diseases. Today around 760,000 children die from diarrhoeal disease every year making it a significant obstacle to achieving Millennium Development Goal 4.

Aside from child deaths, diarrhoeal disease can have even more long-lasting effects. It can cause malnutrition which can be a huge contributing factor to stunted growth and can impact negatively on future cognitive development. These effects are intergenerational as they can prevent affected children from attending education and being economically active and can further limit their chances of raising healthy and productive families.

I have seen for myself the effects of diarrhoeal disease when I participated in UK parliamentary delegations to Kenya and Bangladesh. In spite of the excellent efforts of wonderful and committed medical staff, hygiene remains a significant problem. In conjunction with improving access to appropriate vaccines and medication, more must be done to support initiatives aimed at promoting hygienic practices like regular hand washing and exclusive breastfeeding. We should also ensure that where diarrhoeal disease does occur, it can be effectively treated with oral rehydration therapy (ORT), oral rehydration solution (ORS), zinc and other micronutrients alongside regular feeding.

The UK has always been a leader in international development policy and I want to make sure that we continue to provide investment, expertise and leadership on the issue of access to clean water and sanitation. Whilst great strides have been made in creating effective tools to combat diarrhoeal disease there is a real need for greater action and to build on our progress.

I welcome the commitment made by the Government in April 2012 to double the number of people that will be reached by WASH by 2015 and I call on the Government to work further with international partners such as PATH, WaterAid and Tearfund to prioritise these vital issues and to roll out the tools that have been developed.

Preventing and controlling diarrhoeal disease and improving access to clean, safe toilets can significantly transform the lives of many people across the world and help them to build healthy, prosperous communities to raise their children.

Photo: PATH/Gareth Bentley

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submitted by Eileen Quinn
11/20/2012 at 10:35

Did you see the blog posts yesterday (World Toilet Day) from elected officials in the United States reminding us of the importance of safe toilets for the health and safety of children and communities? Oh, that’s right, there weren’t any.

But in the UK, several Members of Parliament spoke out. Lord Eric Avebury blogged that “Absence of clean toilets and inadequate sanitation facilities are key causes of diarrhoeal disease, the second largest killer of children worldwide, causing around 760,000 child deaths every year.” MP Jim Dobbin wrote about his first-hand experience seeing the devastating toll of diarrhea when visiting Bangladesh and Kenya, and notes that “Aside from child deaths, diarrhoeal disease can have even more long-lasting effects. It can cause malnutrition which can be a huge contributing factor to stunted growth and can impact negatively on future cognitive development.”

Perhaps my favorite is a letter to The Times of Londonfrom MP Annette Brooke, Baroness Anne Jenkin, and Baroness Glenys Kinnock that begins: 

“Sir, The humble toilet is not a subject we’re accustomed to hearing about in campaign speeches and political pledges. But with one in three women having no access to adequate sanitation, it’s a subject we cannot ignore. We are therefore calling on governments around the world to make good on their promises to provide the world’s poorest people with safe toilets and clean water.”

What’s that old saw about Brits being stuffy and Americans telling it like it is? Turns out, these British politicians have the courage to call attention to the importance of several topics that can be taboo – toilets and diarrhea among them. They know that if we don’t talk about these challenges, we will never rally enough will to defeat them.

Hats off to these parliamentarians for their candor. Here at DefeatDD, we know we agree: Let’s Talk About It.

If we do, maybe then signs like this one (from PATH President Steve Davis’s recent trip to Burma) will say Toilets for All.


-- Eileen Quinn, Director of Communications for the Vaccine Development Program at PATH


For more information:

-- Wanted: your potty pics. Raise your voice for sanitation and flush for a cause!

-- Who gives a crap? These guys do! Amazing social entrepreneurship -- and brave photos -- featured on the blog.


Photo credits, top to bottom: PATH/Gareth Bentley, PATH/Steve Davis.

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submitted by Simon Griffiths
11/19/2012 at 10:19

The sanitation problem is huge – if you’re reading this blog you’re probably well aware that 2.5 billion people, or one in three people in the entire world, don’t have access to a clean toilet. That leads to a hell of a lot of diarrhea-related disease, which ultimately fills half of the hospital beds in sub-Saharan Africa. What’s worse is that this problem is not being solved very quickly. At current rates of improvement, global sanitation won’t be achieved until around 2075.

A couple of friends and I thought that was pretty crappy, so in July this year we launched a new brand of toilet paper called Who Gives A Crap. Our product is an environmentally friendly toilet paper that uses 50% of its profits to build toilets in the developing world.

Our launch involved pre-selling $50,000 of product via the IndieGoGo crowdfunding platform.  To help things along, I agreed to sit on a toilet on a live webfeed until we hit the $50k target. The campaign went viral, and we hit our $50,000 target in 50 hours. You can still see our campaign here. We’re now expecting to have our full online store open next month, which is really exciting!


People often ask why we created Who Gives A Crap. When I look back now, I realise that it was for three reasons:

-- First and foremost, we wanted to build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world. We wanted to start chipping away at that 2.5 billion figure.

-- Secondly, we knew that the vast majority of people don’t understand the size of the sanitation issue or why it is so problematic. We realized that a major reason for this is that no one wants to talk about toilets - they’re dirty and disgusting. Toilets just aren’t sexy!  We saw a tongue in cheek opportunity to bypass the taboo by making sanitation fun.

-- Finally, we felt that society was reaching its donation saturation point – that the amount of money being donated was hitting a glass ceiling. We thought it was necessary to revisit the way that social impact is funded. We wanted to create an opportunity for people to make a difference without donating more, or changing what they do everyday.


Today is World Toilet Day! Yep, there is a World Toilet Day. It started 11 years ago to help create conversation around the importance of sanitation. Unfortunately, even after 11 years, we’ve still got a long way to go. So maybe at some point today, take a couple of minutes to think about what you might be able to do to help speed things up. You don’t have to start a toilet paper company – sometimes creating change can be as simple as switching the products that you buy.

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submitted by Jim Dobbin
11/13/2012 at 11:19

As Co-Chair of the All Party Group for Child Health and Vaccine Preventable Disease I have spent many years working to raise awareness of the burden of pneumonia in the developing world, where 99% of pneumonia related deaths occur. Pneumonia remains the leading killer of children aged under five worldwide and in 2011 alone accounted for the deaths of around 1.3 million children.

Today is World Pneumonia Day and an ideal opportunity to discuss progress on tackling this terrible but largely preventable disease and to address what more needs to be done. It is to the great credit of NGOs, development agencies, Governments and all other development and healthcare stakeholders that we have made such great progress in the last decade. Through improving access to effective vaccines against pneumonia and diarrhoea we have seen drastic reductions in child mortality.

Despite this progress, we cannot afford to lose momentum. It is only through investing in prevention and treatment that we can protect children against pneumonia and diarrhoeal disease, the two leading killers of children in the developing world, and make substantive progress on meeting our commitment to Millennium Development Goal 4, to reduce by two thirds the child mortality rate by 2015.  

Last year, I marked World Pneumonia Day in Bangladesh, as part of a UK parliamentary delegation to the country, and saw for myself the vital work being done to protect children in both urban and rural areas. From the slums in Dhaka to rural health centres in Rajendrapur, I saw communities working together to deliver vaccines to those who need it most. I was hugely impressed by the work being done by dedicated medical professionals, doctors, nurses and care workers and this highly organised and successful model showed what can be achieved when local communities take ownership of their healthcare systems.

However, in spite of all the expert medical and nursing care being provided,what I saw in Bangladesh wasn’t all positive and, as a former microbiologist, I was greatly concerned by low levels of hygiene and sanitation. Alongside access to vaccines and medicines, particularly antibiotics, improving sanitation, improving access to clean water and frequent hand washing practices are vital to protecting children against diarrhoeal disease and other waterborne diseases. Other initiatives such as promoting exclusive breast feeding and encouraging the use of clean cookstoves can also make a huge contribution to reducing childhood mortality.  

This is the fourth annual World Pneumonia Day and also the fourth that I have participated in. Whilst recognising the progress that we have made, I would like to ask all Governments to prioritise efforts and investments to reduce the number of preventable child deaths through supporting and implementing the measures outlined in the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia (GAPP). The APPG will continue to support these efforts and to raise awareness of the global burden of pneumonia and other preventable diseases. 


-- Jim Dobbin MP is Co-Chair of the APPG for Child Health and Vaccine Preventable Disease


Photo credit: PATH

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