Going for goal - together
If you move in global health circles, you may have had the good fortune to meet soccer star (and ONE Campaign Global Health Policy Director) Erin Hohlfelder. In her recent blog, she reflects on how access to lifesaving immunizations gave her the opportunity to be happy and healthy in the game of life, which still eludes too many children. The GAVI Alliance exists to help level the global playing field, and this week, ONE Campaign launched the game plan for donors in the new World Cup-themed report, Going for Goal: Immunisation and the Case for GAVI.
All these sports analogies make me reflect on my own athletic career… as an unwilling participant in my grade school physical education class. That is, until hockey flipped the switch in me. I became a maniac, relentlessly chasing the ever-moving puck, blind to the confusion of my teammates and to irrelevant distinctions like “offense” and “defense.” I was a zealot on a mission, and I had no time for strategy. Good intentions notwithstanding, it wasn't the best use of my newfound passionate energy.
It turns out what's true in the hockey (or soccer) field is true in the global health field, too. Each player contributes unique strengths to build a winning team. It's why we constantly talk about an integrated approach to diarrheal disease: prevention efforts (water and sanitation, vaccination, breastfeeding, and nutrition) must team up with treatment efforts (ORS/zinc, and eventually new drugs). We would inevitably suffer losses if everyone focused on a singular approach, forgetting that each player - each intervention - is necessary in the game.
Saving 5 million children with vaccines is an ambitious but achievable goal. If we can dream even bigger with a combined approach, why wouldn't we?
Photo credit: Susan Sola.