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New IZ Programs: Fighting Polio, Global Health Meets Soccer!

7 Sep

The only human disease eradicated from the world is smallpox. We don’t see this deadly, disfiguring disease nowadays for two important reasons. First,  we had a vaccine that provided lifelong immunity against smallpox. The second, and probably most important reason, is that the whole world came together to vaccinate the population and end the spread of this disease. Today, the world is on the brink of eradicating another human disease – polio.

Polio has been gone from the US for a long time. Today we only see cases of polio in 4 countries around the world and a little over 1,600 cases of polio every year.  Our vaccination and public health campaigns have kept polio at bay – that should be enough, right? According to Bruce Aylward, the head of the WHO’s Global Polio Eradication Initiative, it’s not enough. Global travel means polio is just a plane ride away. In his TED talk about polio eradication, Aylward tells us how close we are to eradicating this disease and how we can accomplish this only if we all work together.

The Soccer Connection

Organizations across the globe are taking part in the eradication campaign. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation recently  collaborated with FC Barcelona on the More Than a Goal campaign.  The popularity of soccer throughout the world provides a new and innovative forum  to raise awareness  about  polio eradication and  the importance of vaccines. This blogger is very excited about this campaign as I am a HUGE soccer fan and FC Barcelona is my favorite team in La Liga.


Being Global Citizens

There are still polio survivors in the US who can tell us stories of how devastating polio can be. Because eradicating polio is a global effort, this helps to bring all of us closer together. Our actions here at home, like vaccinating our children against polio, are a step toward this goal.


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: Vaccines Save Lives

20 Jul

Vaccines save lives. We hear this all the time. But if you’re like us, seeing is believing.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently released this video, cleverly animated by the folks at Cognitive Media.  In case you haven’t heard, the Gates Foundation has taken up the cause of bringing vaccines to developing countries where preventable diseases are still rampant. It’s an amazing refresher on the roll vaccines play in giving so many children a chance at life free from disease most of us take for granted. Bill also talks about the work steps being done now to rid the world of polio.

To many of us, it may seem like these diseases are a million miles away. But if you think about it, with globalization and world travel, we’re pretty much just a plane ride a way. And some diseases just need enough older kids and adults without booster shots to make a comeback.  That’s been the case for California’s recent  surge in whooping cough, a preventable disease where 10 California babies died just last year and prompting a get-vaccinated campaign right here at home.

And that’s when the light bulb goes on: it isn’t just “those” children in other countries. Vaccines still help our children, our friends, and our loved ones lead lives free of diseases like polio and measles.

Share your thoughts about the Gates Foundation video. Was there something that stuck with you? We’d like to know.

Stay tuned for the next blog posting next week. In the meantime, enjoy a healthy and fun summer!