Children in the Pacific region are now able to access three new life-saving vaccines, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), rotavirus vaccine (RV), and the human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV), through Rotary Give Every Child A Future, a partnership between UNICEF and Rotary in Australia and New Zealand.
This multi-million dollar partnership is supporting the introduction of these vaccines to protect children against pneumonia and rotavirus as well as to protect adolescents against HPV reaching more than 100,000 children in total across Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
“We understand that the current global priority is on immunization against COVID-19. However, we can’t afford to lose sight of other health priorities that also pose a significant threat to the lives of Pacific children,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Jonathan Veitch. “We thank Rotary for their critical long-term partnership with UNICEF to protect children and young people from these vaccine-preventable diseases.”
In the Pacific, pneumonia and diarrhoea are among the top three causes of mortality in children under five years of age. Around one-third of all pneumonia deaths are due to pneumococcal disease, which is usually transmitted through contact with infected children.
Rotaviruses are the leading cause of severe diarrhoea in children aged less than five years. Severe diarrhoea can lead to dehydration, particularly in young children, and if left untreated can be life-threatening.
Cervical cancer is one of the top three regional priorities of Pacific leaders, with over a thousand cervical cancer cases each year. Nearly all cases of cervical cancer can be attributed to HPV infection.
The rollout of these vaccines, is supported by Rotary Australia and New Zealand to celebrate 100 years of service as 2021 marks the Centenary of Rotary International in the region.
“This project is a further demonstration of the partnership between UNICEF and Rotary,” said Rotary Project Director, James Allen. “We have worked closely with UNICEF and others on the worldwide polio eradication campaign. We are so delighted that the implementation of Rotary Give Every Child A Future is underway after years of planning and preparation. It is a vital public health initiative that will have lasting and sustainable benefits for the people of these countries.”
The three-year partnership is also supporting an update of national immunization and supply chain management policies. It will also assist with an upgrade to cold chain equipment and the supply chain system. This will help improve the immunization reporting system and integrate other essential health system strengthening activities that will contribute to a reduction in PCV, RV, HPV infections and other vaccine preventable diseases.
UNICEF and Rotary Australia and New Zealand will also support public health authorities in Pacific Island countries to engage communities on the importance of being vaccinated to save lives, and address misinformation about vaccination.
About Rotary International: Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves. For more information about Rotary please go to Rotary.org, or visit the Rotary Give Every Child A Future website or Facebook
About UNICEF: UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.