Preventing disease is everyone’s responsibility

by Jaegar Doty

On Sundays, I enjoy working at a daycare. Kids have the unique ability to somehow be both incredibly amusing and unbelievably frustrating. The children in this daycare are typically the former; however, oftentimes I find myself rocking one of the more temperamental children, a young boy dubbed “Baby JP” by the other kids.

Typically I rock him until he calms and can return to sticking blocks in his mouth. When initially presented with this task, I was struck by the incredible vulnerability of a child this age.

With no conception of what is happening to them, millions of kids succumb every year to diseases like pneumonia and even diarrhea. Illnesses that are often seen as mere annoyances in our own lives can decimate generations of children in countries around the world.

While that current classification is thanks primarily to the high level of vaccinations within our own borders, a child should not have to pay the ultimate price for the crime of being born outside of a country that can take care of them.

Then there was JP, the weight of his life in my hands. I shooed away harsh realities due to the unpleasantness they aroused in the depths of my own emotions that cemented themselves in the forefront of my mind. The world can be cruel and unjust: children exactly like this one die unceremoniously every single day.

Our privileged position within the global society affords us an array of opportunities. But that privileged position also gives us the burden of responsibility for action, and therefore, we must do  our duty by supporting organizations that help others.

Gavi is an organization that has been tipping the scales in favor of children all over the world since the turn of the century. As a vaccine alliance, Gavi has prevented myriads of deaths in the developing worlds; however, they haven’t done so purely due to their own strength.

With investments given from not only the public and private sectors but the recipient countries as well, Gavi hopes to perpetuate an atmosphere of sustainability and affordability for vaccines. The goal is that countries in need will no longer have to rely on outside support to vanguard their youth against these invisible harbingers of disease.

However, the investments from our own government are anything but permanent. In a Congress mired in petty bipartisanship, and what seems to be a celebrity-fueled environment of antivaccine hysteria, those of us who care must elevate our communities’ dialogue in unanimous support of the refunding of Gavi.

Let us be messengers to dispel misinformation, and promote unity in cause. Write to your representatives in Congress, share your thoughts through social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others, and write to your local newspapers.

Above all spread compassion for those who weren’t born with the privilege of inhabiting our corner of the globe. When the possession of a solution is at hand, we as citizens of the world can’t allow those unable to conceptualize the totality of death to become its early victims.