Eric Margules 2016-04-19 05:27:54
Lions in Zimbabwe Help Vaccinate More Than 5 Million Hidden in cities and villages across Zimbabwe, many beyond the reach of modern technology, more than 5 million children under the age of 15 face the threat of death from devastating diseases. Many of these diseases, such as measles, can be easily prevented by a series of inexpensive vaccinations. Luckily, where there’s a need, there’s a Lion. Lions knew something had to be done, but stopping the spread of a disease such as measles requires resources and collaboration on an almost unimaginable scale. That’s why, since 2013, Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has partnered with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to meet the challenge of measles in Zimbabwe—and around the world—head-on. Last September, LCIF, the Lions of Zimbabwe and Gavi partnered with Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Care to begin a massive five-day catch-up campaign to provide 5.2 million children with the measles-rubella vaccine and vitamin A supplements. With the Ministry of Health and Child Care coordinating the campaign, Gavi supplied millions of the vaccinations and vitamin supplements, while Lions took to the streets to mobilize volunteers and spread the word about the campaign. With the help of a $100,000 grant from LCIF, Lions in Zimbabwe blanketed the airways, roadways and even cellphones with reminders about the campaign. To spread the word to families without access to television or radio, Lions and Leos teamed up to canvas marketplaces and other public spaces with fliers. Lions in Zimbabwe prepare a child to receive the measles-rubella vaccination at a school outside Harare. “There has been huge participation from Lions clubs, and the response from the community has been outstanding,” says Jonah Machaya, second vice district 412 governor. “We’ve sent out SMSs. We’ve done billboards. We’ve sent out radio feeds. We’ve sent out cellphone feeds. We have been in touch with most of the community of Zimbabwe.” According to Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Care, who reported that all of the target population received vaccinations and nearly 90 percent received the vitamin supplement, it’s clear that Lions’ efforts were successful. “We saw an advert in the newspaper and we felt that it’s our duty as parents to make sure [our] kids are vaccinated against the measles,” says one parent whose children received their vaccines during the campaign. “It has benefited us immensely because it is just a short distance from where we stay and also it is free of charge. The support is fantastic.” The success of the measlesrubella campaign demonstrates what Lions and partners can accomplish when they come together for the good of their communities. Much still remains to be done to combat measles around the world. As a part of their partnership, LCIF and its volunteers are raising $30 million to help Gavi fund similar campaigns in some of the world’s poorest countries. Funds raised by Lions will be matched by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to bring the total to $60 million. To learn more about how LCIF and Gavi are working together to combat measles visit lcif.org/EN/our-work/humanitarian-efforts/measles.php.
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