On Monday, world leaders pledged $4.34 billion for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI). This will help to roll out vaccines to protect against the two biggest killers of small children – pneumonia and diarrhoeal disease. The Department for International Development estimates that this will save the lives of more than four million children over the next five years, and Save the Children labelled the pledge as ‘an historic moment for children’.
And yet vaccines are just a small, although significant, part of the solution to child mortality. The four million children whose lives will be saved by these vaccines, are still at enormous risk. They are at risk from the other biggest causes of child deaths – malaria, HIV related infections, infections spread through inadequate sanitation and clean water, and malnutrition. If they survive to adulthood, they are at risk of unemployment and persistent poverty and hunger, and their own children will continue to be at risk from early death.
COCO projects help form another small part of the solution to child mortality. By delivering clean water and better toilet facilities in schools, we help improve children’s health and reduce disease. Providing young people with education and training, through schools and Vocational Training Centres, helps them gain the skills required to gain work, earn money and escape poverty – protecting themselves and their own children from ill health and disease.
There are many more steps to be taken to give every child a chance at survival. From improving access to basic healthcare and drugs for malaria and HIV, to increasing food security in the face of rising food prices, many of these steps fall at the feet of world governments and institutions. One of the major forces behind the vaccine funding pledge was the persistent and tireless campaigning of charities such as Save the Children – 46,000 of their supporters signed a petition in support of vaccine funding.
Whether it is through signing a petition, volunteering as an advocate for COCO, or even just reading this blog and telling people about it, campaigning and advocacy are essential to helping ensure future generations of children get a chance to survive to adulthood. If you’re interested in campaigning for COCO, we’d love to hear from you.