Editor’s Note: This guest post is written by Ari Brown, M.D., FAAP, a Parents advisor and pediatrician in Austin, TX. She is the co-author of the best-sellling “411” parenting book series including Expecting 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for your Pregnancy, Baby 411, and Toddler 411. Here, she shares her new role as champion for the world-wide Shot@Life initiative.
As a pediatrician, and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, I’ve been involved in children’s health initiatives in the U.S. for a long time. But this year, I’m going global! I’m excited to be a part of a new movement to help kids and I want to share it with you!
On April 26, 2012, the United Nations Foundation will roll out a new grassroots program cleverly titled, Shot@Life. The message: every child—no matter where they live—deserves a shot at leading a healthy, productive life.
American parents don’t usually have to worry about losing their children to diseases like measles, pneumonia, or even the worst case of diarrhea. That’s because most of our kids have access to and are able to receive life-saving vaccines. Unfortunately, 1 in 5 children worldwide don’t have that opportunity for protection. In fact, 1.7 million children will die this year from these diseases that are rare in the U.S., thanks to vaccination. Unfortunately, a child dies every 20 seconds.
I know, I know. We have so many economic issues at home, it is hard to think about the plight of children on the other side of the world. But honestly, protection against diseases there helps all of our kids. Germs don’t need a passport. They don’t have to take their shoes off in security or go through special body scanners to get on a plane to our hometowns. So, our own children will benefit from protecting children in other countries.
Earlier today, the United Nations Foundation announced Shot@Life, a campaign to expand access to vaccines for children in developing countries. “Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a disease that could have been prevented by a vaccine,” said Peg Willingham, Executive Director of Shot@Life.
The campaign hopes to teach Americans about the success of childhood vaccines as a cost-effective way to save lives and, in return, have them advocate for and donate vaccines to children in need.
Each year, 1.7 million children under the age of 5 die from vaccine-preventable diseases, according to the World Health Organization. But vaccines have already proven successful in drastically decreasing the number of deaths from measles and polio. Increased education about and accessibility to vaccines can save the lives of millions of more children.
Today is the first day of World Breastfeeding Week, an annual event organized by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
According to WHO, World Breastfeeding Week has been held since 1991 “to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.” WHO, UNICEF, and the American Academy of Pediatrics all recommend exclusive breastfeeding until a baby reaches six months old.
The theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week is “Talk to me! Breastfeeding – a 3D Experience.” WABA hopes to get people to utilize new forms of technology and social media to spread information and increase conversations about breastfeeding. People in more than 170 countries are participating in celebrations this week, including many moms in America. On Saturday, August 6, moms across the world will participate in the Big Latch On. Registered mothers will nurse their babies simultaneously in hopes of breaking the record for the most women breastfeeding at the same time, set in October 2010 when 9,826 mothers were recorded nursing at 325 sites in 16 countries.