- Community Empowerment
Tuesday, November 7, 2006
"GAVI IFFIm Launch "
London, United Kingdom
"Good afternoon everyone.
It is always inspiring to be a part of a wonderful event like this. But I have to confess, I did not always feel quite as knowledgeable about vaccines as I do today.
I remember twelve years ago, when I took my eldest son, Hussein, for his first round of childhood vaccinations, my dominant emotion was anxiety. Would the vaccines hurt? Would my baby cry? Would he grow up hating doctors?
Well, of course, by the time he had become a toddler, he was so excited about getting a plaster that nothing else really mattered.
But by the time my youngest son, Hashem, was born, I had had a change of perspective as well.
Because by then, I was working with GAVI – and with so many of you here in this room. And instead of anxiety, when I thought of vaccines, what I felt was a sense of urgency – not just that my own children should receive these vital shots… but that every child of every mother deserved the same protection and care.
GAVI is bringing that vision closer to reality every day – saving lives… advancing research… and strengthening health systems worldwide. I am honored to be here, among so many heroes in the cause.
Let me say a special thanks to Chancellor Gordon Brown, whose leadership has been indispensable in getting us to this moment.
Chancellor Brown, at UNICEF last year, you shared the words of an African poet:
I do not ask for money,
although I have need of it.
I do not ask for meat.
I have only one request,
and all I ask is that you remove
the road block from my path.
Today, with the launch of the International Finance Facility for Immunisation, we are sweeping a road block aside – a road block that not only limits the sights of poor children… but limits their very chance for survival.
Now with your support, and with GAVI’s good work, limitations can give way to healthy lives. And speaking as a mother of four young children, this effort is close to my heart.
But speaking as a member of the global family, it is also a matter of conscience… because none of our children can be secure in a world where millions of children are at risk – where poor mothers are losing their lives while giving birth… where innocent boys and girls with spindly legs and swollen bellies are subsisting on dirt and air… where little children are struggling to care for even smaller siblings… and babies are dying every day for want of a £2 bed net that costs less than a takeaway sandwich…
Immunizations are one of the best investments in health and progress. They are cost-effective. They work. They last. And they are relatively easy to distribute, even in countries that are desperately poor… or only just emerging from conflict.
So thank you Britain… France… Italy… Norway… Spain…and Sweden… for your support of the IFFIm which will enable GAVI to reach 500 million more children… and save millions of additional lives.
It is, literally and figuratively, a shot in the arm for global health and hope.
Thank you very much."