This post is written by Erin Hohlfelder, ONE’s Policy Manager for Global Health.
On a chilly November evening last year, hundreds of Capitol Hill staffers crowded together in a small set of rooms, clamoring to hear the latest about the power of life-saving vaccines. OK, so the draw of NBA legend and Measles Initiative spokesperson Dikembe Mutombo may have had something to do with the crowd… but we’d like to think that in these tough economic times, with wars, natural disasters and deficits looming large over our national discourse, it was inspiring to take a few hours to hear the good news: low-cost American investments in proven vaccines are saving lives and transforming communities for the long term.
Building on that event, ONE and the American Red Cross have launched a partnership to promote access to life-saving childhood vaccines. Our organizations are united by the belief that no child should suffer or die from a preventable, treatable disease such as measles, pneumonia and rotavirus. We are honored to join forces and voices with the American Red Cross in an effort to save children’s lives.
When asked “What the Red Cross Means to Me?,” the first thing that comes to mind is the incredible work of American Red Cross and other Measles Initiative partners, whose immunization programs have helped to reduce measles deaths by 78 percent in just eight years! American Red Cross is known and respected for bringing joy, hope, and restoration into some of the toughest places in the world. Whether it’s flooding in the American South or the threat of measles in the Central African Republic, the American Red Cross staff and volunteers are trusted to work tirelessly and to offer support—and so to us, they’re an inspiration.
Unlike the American Red Cross, ONE doesn’t provide direct services — we’re a policy and advocacy organization, known for our catch phrase “we’re not asking for your money — we’re asking for your voice.” We rely on a large, diverse group of members around the U.S. and the world to raise their collective voice to pressure policymakers and leaders to make smart, poverty-focused investments in global poverty and health.
As part of our vaccines campaign, ONE has launched a new PSA called “Why Bother?” and a petition asking President Obama to support funding for promising new child vaccines. We’ve been overwhelmed by support so far — more than 127,000 people have signed on to lend their support, and everyone from families in North Carolina to African ministers of health have shared with us what vaccines have meant for the health of their children, families, and communities. But right now, politicians including President Obama are facing a lot of pressure to cut back on spending, which could impact critical vaccination programs.
So, that’s where you come in. We need you to add your voice to our call and let our leaders know that the American Red Cross and its incredible members care deeply about protecting children and families — not just from storms but also from deadly but preventable diseases. We may never be 7’2” like Dikembe, but together ONE and American Red Cross can do big things.