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Health

Mothers tell us why #EveryShotCounts

1 in 5 African children lacks access to vital vaccines - vaccines that are necessary to prevent the biggest killers of children under the age of five in Africa: pneumonia and diarrhea. These two mothers tell us about the difficulties and importance of gaining access to these vaccines. With access to life-saving vaccines, every child should have the opportunity to celebrate their fifth birthday and many more.


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Name: Yolande Diedhiou
Age: 46
Occupation: Housekeeper
Children: Damys, 28; Jean, 15; and Ludovic, 13

Yolande Diedhiou is 46 and lives on the outskirts of Dakar, Senegal. During the week, she wakes up at 3:30 am to arrive at her first job in the city by 5am. From there, she has a succession of jobs that include cleaning offices and apartments in various buildings throughout Darak, finishing around 1pm to arrive home by 2 or 3pm.

Once she’s home, she cleans her own house and cooks for her 2 boys – Jean, 15 and Ludovic, 13. Her oldest son, Damys is 28 and attends a technical school nearby. Occasionally she has help in the kitchen from her 18-year-old niece, Valerie, who she has raised since her brother’s death.

While she has long days, and her salary goes to help support the household, Yolande missed a precious few days of work to make a huge long term health investment – vaccinations for her children. She says all women are told when they’re pregnant that they must bring their children for routine vaccines, although they’re not told exactly why other than “to protect them from illnesses.”

On those days, she would leave her home at 7am, arriving to the clinic around 8:30am with her son (or sons) on her back. If she were running late, she would take a car rapide – a bus commonly used for public transportation across Senegal. Some days, there were so many people at the clinic, she would wait hours – and occasionally be told they did not have the vaccines she needed for her child.

When the vaccines were in stock, they were free. Beyond that, children received free booster shots at school once they were older.

Yolande says that all women in the community understand vaccines are important – they “save the children.”

Yolande’s story is both fortunate and unfortunate; fortunate in that there’s an embedded understanding that vaccines are vital – but unfortunate that they’re not always available. Fortunate because it only takes her an hour and half to walk to a clinic, while many women have to walk longer and further to find the clinic has a stock-out after all their efforts. Some never make the long journey back another day.

For Yolande and other mothers who often have to choose between their daily income and their child’s health – please help us to call on all our leaders to push for the right of every child to have access to life-saving vaccines, and therefore the best possible chance for a healthy future. #EveryShotCounts!


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Name: Mariama Sadio
Age: 26
Occupation: Office Cleaner
Children: Mohammad, 6 and Mustapha, 2 1/2

Mariama Sadio is 26 and has 2 sons – Mohammad, who is 6, and Mustapha who is 2 ½ years old.

She works as an office cleaner in Dakar and wakes up at 5am to shower and pray before making her way to work from just outside of Dakar.

Her local health post is only a 20-30 minutes walk for her – much shorter than the average journey for many mothers. When her children were young, she took both of them to be vaccinated, as all women are told to do in her community.

Her local health workers explained that it is important for her children to be immunized to protect them from certain diseases – which is more of an explanation than some women receive. She was always fortunate that the health center had the required vaccines in stock and offered for free.

When vaccination is made a priority, mothers like Mariama are able to easily protect their children from preventable diseases, including measles and polio. Please help us to call on all our leaders through the #EveryShotCounts petition to push for the right of every child to have access to life-saving vaccines, and therefore the best possible chance for a healthy future.