https://dfid.blog.gov.uk/2011/06/22/a-silent-cheer/

A silent cheer

The social media room at last week's GAVI conference was quietly buzzing. People's faces were lit by the blue light of their lap top screens and, in one corner, a steady stream of influential people commented and reported into the TV cameras.

My colleagues in the social media room. Picture: Christine Mosler

I blogged three times during the four hours and tweeted crazily to get the message out to the digital world, it was frantic, it was silent and it was an amazing thing to be part of.

The feeling in the press conference when the announcement was made that the world's leaders had chosen to save four million lives in those four hours was more calm satisfaction than wild jubilation. I swallowed down the urge to whoop and resisted the temptation to get up and dance. Back in the social media room there was no almighty cheer but a frantic clicking of many keyboards as the news was tweeted, facebooked, blogged and emailed out.

The people who are most affected by this decision won't hear the news at all. It will be a gradual filtering through as vaccines are rolled out and a dawning realisation that fewer children are dying. This is a huge stride forward and I hope that it is followed by many more as countries strive to close the iniquitous gap between those who have so much and those who have so little.

Me on the back of a motorbike during a visit to Mozambique to learn about vaccines

I would like to leap back on that motorbike out in Mozambique, grab the health worker's megaphone and shout the news out to the women and children I met while I was out there. Their voices were heard and it was a fantastic thing.

Of course, vaccinations have their critics and I have talked and tweeted with many of them over the last few weeks. Some of them were rolled out on Monday's news and comments programmes and debate has continued in the newspapers and on the radio throughout this week. There are two distinct camps, one which says "charity begins at home and that we should not be sending aid overseas while funds are tight", and the other that we should be "looking at the long view and cleaning up the water supply".

Children like Dulsa will die without these vaccinations. Picture: Christine Mosler

Library opening times, a tightening of the belt, less money in the council coffers all matter but they don't matter as much as the life of a child. Investing in the health of poorer nations pays dividends in the long term; prevention is cheaper than cure. Vaccines are a cheap and effective life saver and enable countries to begin to clamber to their feet; a healthy nation is more productive than one struggling to survive.

It is easy to sit in the UK and look at the 'big picture' but if you have visited these communities and met these women and these children there can be no doubt or conflict in your mind. They feel the death of a child just as I would, their children deserve a chance at life just as mine do and they can't wait.

I, for one, am cheering Monday's decision. Loudly!


Christine Mosler is a mother of four and "mummy blogger" for the charity Save the Children. She recently accompanied them on a trip to Mozambique to follow a vaccine from its original storage point in the city and into the arm of a child in a rural village.

The UK Government is spearheading a global effort to vaccinate 250 million children by 2015. Find out more at www.dfid.gov.uk/GAVI2011

Please note, this is a guest blog. Views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of DFID or have the support of the British Government.

3 comments

  1. Dan Thomas

    What a wonderful blog Christine. You and your supporters can feel proud of making it all happen. You provided and continue to provide the "people power" that help politicians make their decisions. Thank you for your support on this critical issue and your skill in communicating it to a wide audience.

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  2. Sara

    Survival shouldn't be a lottery about where you are born. Should we just accept our luck that we were born in country with NHS a welfare system. No as far as I am concerned we are all born equal and the government decision is a step towards or all living equal.

    It's not a case of charity begins at home. Geography is irrelevant if you prick us we all bleed.

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  3. Brian Stockdale

    Well said Christine! Thankyou from Save the Children volunteers in the North

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