10 Nov World Pneumonia Day Panel co-hosted by IVAC, NatGeo, and Gates Foundation Sheds Light on Distinctive Vaccine Story
Article posted on November 10, 2017.
This week the TropMed conference took over the Baltimore Convention Center, drawing in global health professionals from around the world. National Geographic Magazine, the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gathered global health leaders attending the event and hosted an event – titled “The Life-Saving Vaccine the World Has Never Heard of… And the Children Who Need it the Most.” The event also drew in more than 1000 online participants from around the world and highlighted the crucial need for vaccine access around the world.
Cynthia Gorney, author of a recent National Geographic feature story on vaccine access and Professor Emeritus at the University of California – Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, moderated the lively discussion. Gorney recounted how she was approached by National Geographic and asked to “write an important vaccine story.” As someone who is not a vaccine expert, her goal was to tell “not only the best-known vaccine stories, but the right vaccine stories.” Gorney credited several panelists, including Dr. Keith Klugman, of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Dr. Samir Saha, of Dhaka Shishu Hospital in Bangladesh, in helping her pinpoint the story that still needed to be told – the one about pneumococcus, pneumonia, and the economic issues surrounding vaccine access in developing nations.
Gorney dove into questions for her panel of experts. Joining Drs. Klugman and Saha on the panel were. Dr. Chizoba Wonodi, Nigeria Director at the International Vaccine Access Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Martha Rebour, Executive Director of Shot@Life of the United Nations Foundation in Washington D.C., Dr. Cynthia Whitney, Chief of Respiratory Diseases Branch at the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta.
As the panel discussion began, copies of the November National Geographic Magazine, and IVAC’s 2017 Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report, made their way around the audience. Beautiful pictures from the article, taken by Daniel Williams, photographer for National Geographic, decorated the venue and created an ambiance that made it clear that this event was something special. The panel discussion elicited passionate and insightful questions and answers, reflecting the urgency for catalytic action needed to reach global child health targets for the most vulnerable and unreached populations around the world. A large part of the event featured questions and answers from not only the audience in-house, but from more than 1000 global audience members who tuned in to the livestream and submitted questions via Twitter.
Event organizers from IVAC and the Gates Foundation pose with important takeaway messages from the event.
Audience members asked about the effects of vaccines beyond disease prevention, to which Dr. Klugman answered that vaccines can prevent antibiotic resistance, prevent deaths from resistant infections, and contribute to improved nutrition. Both Dr. Klugman and Dr. Wonodi alluded to the idea that vaccines are not a “magic bullet solution,” and we must also direct investments to scale up an integrated approach to disease prevention and treatment, including improving malnutrition, improving sanitation, and improving access to treatments like oxygen therapy, antibiotics, and oral rehydration therapy.
The panelists and participants engaged on a number of critical child health issues. These conversations all centered on the need for citizens, policy makers, and public health experts to prioritize the needs of the children most at risk due to poverty, malnutrition, and lack of access to basic health care. Panelists also highlighted that the global health community must rapidly scale up interventions, including life-saving vaccines, to address the leading infectious killer of children under-five: pneumonia.
This World Pneumonia Day, please help spread the message that strategic, targeted investments into increasing access to these interventions in an equitable way is our only hope to reach Sustainable Development Goal 3.2, to end all preventable deaths in neonates and children, by 2030.
For more materials, check out the following resources:
- Stop Pneumonia’s World Pneumonia Day Resource Library
- Feature Article from National Geographic “Why Vaccines are so Crucial”
- World Pneumonia Day 2017 Social Media Toolkit
- A short video on Sanjida, the Bangladeshi girl featured in the National Geographic Article
- Global Health Now’s Interview with Cynthia Gorney, “The Vaccine Story the World Needed to Hear”