Immunizations against vaccine-preventable diseases save around 2.5 million lives each year.
Despite long being viewed as one of the world's greatest and most cost-effective health interventions, approximately 1.5 million children under 5 years of age die from vaccine-preventable diseases each year.
In the last week of April, Australia and the world honored World Immunization Week, a week dedicated to “promoting the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease” and celebrating “vaccine heroes” who relentlessly work to improve global health outcomes.
Throughout April, Australian global citizens took almost 800 health actions, calling on world leaders to decrease preventable deaths, give due attention to neglected tropical diseases, and invest in vaccines.
These actions by Australian activists will contribute to Global Citizen's 2019-2020 campaign to ensure the successful replenishments of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
On April 30, Sydney-based Global Citizens came together to hear from pioneering changemakers delivering critical health services to the world's most vulnerable at Global Citizen's World Immunization Week panel event.
The event, hosted alongside WeWork, featured incredible guest speakers.
Bill Bowtell, Australia's representative to Pacific Friends of the Global Fund, the world's biggest health partnership, spoke to the crowd about his time advising on some the largest health challenges in Australia under previous Australian prime ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating.
Rebecca Fry, the Immediate Past Chair of Rotaract Australia who is currently working with Johnson & Johnson, and Felicity Harley, the founding editor of Australia's Women's Health Magazine, similarly spoke about the importance of disseminating accurate health information.
Among the engaged Australian global citizens in attendance was Amisha Gupta.
The high schooler told Global Citizen she felt compelled as a young Australian to step up against the world's injustices.
"As the next generation, we have a critical role in making a difference and having our voices heard in issues that pervade our society,” she stated. “Addressing climate change, reducing extreme poverty, and providing accessible education is essential to improving well-being and health globally.”
At the end of the panel discussion, Gupta and the audience had the opportunity to vote on a live poll, which asked which global health issue they were most passionate about.
"Improving access to vaccines for remote communities" received 60% of votes, leading to a vigorous discussion about how conflict, geographic isolation, and extreme poverty inhibits global progress towards health and wellbeing for all.
Global Citizen holds events around the world, year-round. The Australian Global Citizen team are always adding new exciting events in cities across the country — so make sure you check back on our Facebook page for announcements on upcoming events. These events provide an opportunity for people to join the conversation with like-minded Global Citizens, hear from pioneering activists creating incredible change, meet the Australian Global Citizen team, and learn how to increase impact within their community and beyond.