The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced that the U.S. Government will commit $1 billion to The Vaccine Alliance, Gavi, in the 2015-2018 fiscal years to help vaccinate 300 million children worldwide.A statement from USAID indicates that the amount announced is subject to congressional approval.It further states that the U.S. contribution will support Gavi’s plan to immunize 300 million additional children and save at least 5 million lives by 2020.If approved by the U.S. Congress, the US$1 billion will benefit Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa where Polio, whopping cough, diphtheria and tetanus have been affecting children with Ebola now taking center stage.“Providing a new and underutilized vaccine to the world’s poorest countries is a key driver in ending preventable child deaths by 2035,” the statement notes.Accordingly, USAID will be working closely with host country governments, Ministries of Health and Finance, and in-country and global Alliance partners, and will bring its financial, technical, and diplomatic efforts together to support country immunization programs to reach all children with critical, safe vaccines.”GAVI represents a groundbreaking effort that has unified a global community of partners — from rural clinics to multinational corporations — in the fight to end the tragedy of preventable child death,” said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. “In doing so, we are strengthening our own national security, economic prosperity, and moral leadership.”For the third year in a row in his State of the Union address, President Obama embraced the vision of eradicating extreme poverty. USAID’s support for vaccines and immunization is foundational to these efforts.In June 2012, the world came together for the Child Survival Call to Action: A Promise Renewed, to craft a global goal to end preventable child deaths by 2035 and pioneer new approaches to accelerate progress towards child and maternal survival. In the last two years alone, 24 priority countries – of which 16 are in Africa – have achieved an eight percent reduction in under-five mortality, saving 500,000 lives. Many of these lives were saved by simple, low-cost, high-impact health interventions like vaccines. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance was created in 2000, bringing together public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries.Since then, GAVI has helped immunize nearly 500 million children; saving 7 million lives, driven down the costs of life-saving vaccinations, and has helped the poorest countries expand their vaccination programs, the statement said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
AmeriHealth Caritas District of Columbia, a Medicaid provider, has fashioned an ongoing summer self-esteem workshop. It aims to help teens cope with local violence while encouraging them to live up to their potential. The “Best Me – The Blunt Truth on Violence and Prevention Summer Series” uses music, storytelling, video skits and development activities to encourage behavioral change among youth. High school students enrolled in the six-week program are from the Mayor Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program. The campaign attempts to foster a supportive environment for kids to discuss issues that affect them. Topics covered include eating better, safe sex, domestic violence, and resolving conflicts through words, not fists.“It removes barriers and it makes it personal,” said Lauren Reynolds, the AmeriHealth Caritas D.C. marketing and communications consultant who devised the campaign. “Whatever your personal best is, and that’s in terms of decisions that you make, things that you do, people that you hang with, always doing things that will allow you to be and exhibit your best.” Reynolds wanted to do something to help local teens heal from the threats they sometimes face at school and in their communities. The wheels started turning last spring after she saw a video skit in the Streetz Blunt Truth Tour, which travels from state to state to help high school and college students combat youth violence and crime through video, dialogue and live entertainment. DJ Young Music, a local 20-year-old radio host, runs the Streetz Stop The Violence Foundation, which produces the tour Reynolds saw at Friendship Heights Academy in Northwest D.C. DJ Young Music created the foundation and tour in response to the slaying of his friend – rapper Douglas “Swipey” Brooks, 18 – during an attempted robbery. Two District men were arrested in connection with the homicide in February, according to The Washington Post. When it came to the programming piece, Reynolds teamed up with Streetz Blunt Truth Tour, public health consulting firm Trident House International, and FOuR Youth, which works to instill hope and leadership skills in District teens and their support systems. Reynolds also brought in MindRight and AprilMay Company to offer mental health support for high school students. MindRight guides teens through their problems via text message, while AprilMay offers outpatient mental health services to children and families. AmeriHealth, meanwhile, ensures the resources are in place for the kids. On July 28, roughly 100 students and advisors met at Brookland Middle School to discuss video skits on safe sex and the dangers of domestic violence. They also addressed various types of abuse, including bullying, physical and emotional abuse. The students played a version of charades that focused on safe sex. They then took a pledge to, among other things, own their futures, fall in love with growth, stay committed to lifelong learning and never lose sight of their dreams.Lauren Mallard, 15, said the program has taught her to put her best foot forward and to become a better version of herself by asking for help with schoolwork and supporting her mother. “I’m trying to be that person [that would say if] you want to do something, I’ll do it with you,” Mallard told the AFRO. “You can learn and do stuff together.”The July 28 event marked the second installment of the program. The first one took place with another set of District teens last month. Two more installments will happen in August and September.Reynolds estimates the pilot program reached about 300 kids this summer. “We’re going to be doing the same thing in other high schools coming up this year,” she said.