LDS Church rallies support for historic vaccine rollouts in Ghana

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Volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rallied support for the introduction of pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines at the same time

Ghana field visit

A woman holds her son as she waits to have him vaccinated at the Nkyenoa health outreach point in the village of Nkyenoa, Ghana. Photo credit: GAVI/2012/Olivier Asselin

Accra, Ghana, 26 April 2012 – Thousands of volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) rallied support for GAVI’s historic immunisation drive in Ghana, with the church arranging for 1.5 million SMS messages to be sent notifying Ghanaians about the programme.

The LDS Church (the Mormon Church) also has contributed US$ 500,000 toward the purchase of vaccines for developing countries through GAVI and also pledged another US$ 1 million to be contributed to GAVI later this year.

Contribution

The US$ 1.5 million in contribution is the largest made to GAVI by a religious organisation, announced in conjunction with World Immunisation Week by GAVI Board Chair Dagfinn Høybråten. This was during an interview with Salt Lake City-based KLS-TV and Deseret News while in Haiti, where he helped mark GAVI’s upcoming rollout of pentavalent vaccine. LDS volunteers are helping with a measles-rubella campaign in Haiti as part of World Immunization Week activities.

The LDS gift is being used to support the purchase of pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines, which are being rolled out in Ghana – the first African country to introduce them simultaneously, tackling the world’s two biggest childhood killers: pneumonia and diarrhoea.

World Immunisation Week

To further support World Immunisation Week, LDS has provided additional funds for social mobilisation and health education programs in several GAVI countries, supported by LDS church volunteers on the ground.

In Ghana, for example, LDS volunteers have actively participated in the Ghana Health Service planning meetings, with a focus on social mobilisation. LDS specialists are assigned to train and direct efforts to advertise vaccine introduction in their communities. LDS also has assisted the Ghana Health Service in printing posters and flyers. The text messages are scheduled to be sent the first full week of the campaign to raise awareness and encourage children’s immunisation.

"The church is grateful to have the opportunity to join GAVI in the efforts to save children's lives and protect people's health by increasing access to immunisation in developing countries,” said Fred Riley, manager of Immunisations and Special Projects for the Humanitarian Services division of the LDS church.

“When joined together, both of our organisations’ unique strengths are multiplied as we partner to move forward this important work. We hope this partnership will help foster new, creative ways to make greater access to immunisations in developing countries a reality."

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