Written by Amalie Dickinson, CNN
Their ambitious goal: Send free “covid-free” vitamin injections to parents of young children in Rwanda, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.
In a world where access to healthcare is a problem, just one shot could change life for a family.
The groundbreaking experiment, launched last month, is being carried out in collaboration with medical social enterprise Redzepem and American nonprofit Global Impact Medicine.
“A lot of children in these regions do not get supplements,” said Celeste Harris, director of international development at Global Impact Medicine. “The idea behind this project is to send these children some of the best supplements on the planet for free.”
One component of the project is pneumococcal vaccinations for children in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. They are also providing an immunization program for young children against measles in Rwanda, and free antifungal treatment for intestinal worms in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Antifungal tablets can take three months to reach a young child in some places in Africa and other impoverished areas, so for Redzepem and Global Impact Medicine, there’s a keen interest in acquiring a liquid delivery system that can reach areas that don’t have easy access to a doctor.
Money for the project has come from private and corporate donors, including major pharmaceutical companies. The main funding and resources are coming from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Khan Academy, which is working with Future Health Foundation .
In August, Global Impact Medicine hosted an event in New York City that featured live performances from The Lion King and SpongeBob SquarePants. Credit: Adam Flager
“The lung disease leishmaniasis is something that would get treated today if a single oral administration was used. But in these regions, this disease is widely spread by the human population,” said Harris. “The idea is that we take some of the best products and, within a community, we give it away to get these young children immunized.”
In the near future, Redzepem is working with organizations in each of the countries it’s targeting to ensure that families know about the project, and to make it easy for them to pick up their supply. In the future, Harris hopes that the free vaccinations program will expand to become a global project, with vaccines for children from around the world offered as a “vitamin arm of vaccines.”
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