Saturday, November 3, 2012

Awareness and understanding of the power of vaccines can save lives 

 Four weeks ago I stayed home after almost a week of feeling sick.  I was having difficulty breathing, coughing spells and chest pain.  I thought this was a common cold and would pass soon, but it became worse to the point that I could not breathe.  I went to the doctor and he said it was bronchitis.  Before I came home he gave me a shot, prescribed some pain medication and strong antibiotics.  So I went home to rest, and when I was there in my comfy bed feeling horrible, memories began flashing back in my mind of the times I saw people with bronchitis and pneumonia when I was a nurse in Mexico, and of how these very simple treatable diseases were sometimes the cause of death.  That put everything into perspective.  The families in the rural remote areas do not get it so easy like I do.  What I mean is that if I, or members of my family, get sick here in the United States it is as easy as a phone call to the doctor, or to get to the Emergency Room – or as in my case this week, just show up at my doctor’s office and wait until they can attend me.  I was lucky to arrive in time and they were able to take care of me right away.  I am glad they did it because it is a horrible feeling gasping for air in between coughing spells.

 Treatable diseases like diarrhea, measles, bronchitis, pneumonia and polio are fatal in developing countries because some of the governments do not have the resources to provide medical care for their citizens.  In the most remote and rural area communities the only way to get there is by walking, riding a donkey or if you are lucky you may get to ride a horse.  Many of these people are too poor to even own a donkey or horse.  As you can see, transportation is a major factor why many families and children do not receive treatment.  If a doctor cannot get to the people, it is less likely that the people can get to a doctor.

Another major factor is poverty.  Even if a patient and doctor can get together, not only medicines, but basic services like X-rays, lab work and analysis, etc. are luxuries – or nonexistent.  Perhaps the biggest factor in the suffering of these people is the lack of education, understanding and awareness of the seriousness of illnesses that affect them and, especially, their children.  I think this lack of awareness is something that really hit me hard because as a nurse in Mexico many years ago,I saw the pain and agony in the faces of many mothers, and I knew without a doubt that they would do anything - or everything - in their power to save their children, if they only knew how.  They would walk 10-15 miles (or more) to get to a little clinic and stay in the hot sun waiting and holding their child without complaining - but because they do not know or understand the seriousness of these illnesses and diseases, often they will wait in their homes hoping “that it will all get better.”Finally, when in desperation they come to seek help, it is too late.

These mothers are poor and without any access to medical care and vaccines... they accept their situation with humility, courage and tears for what might have been.  I saw resignation, quiet suffering and stoicism in these women.  I saw them crying in desperation and quickly wiping their tears, then turning to go home to make the funeral arrangements for their children...  It is so funny how your mind race to many years ago and back to the present in a second or minute to get me to another point that I want to make; in developing countries a child die every 30 seconds.  So when I was there lying in bed precious kids were dying.  Mothers are mourning the dead of their kids.  I know the doctor told me to rest but how can I rest with all this in my mind? 

 I always have been a huge advocate about education, equal education for minority groups, poverty and help issues like vaccines for children wherever I had lived all these years.   Shot@life, resounds to me and should resound to anyone who cares about human life.  I have been supporting, advocating and championing United Nation Foundation Shot@life vaccination campaign because I believe in their mission and goals and because I know firsthand the vaccines saves lives.  So the question for me was; what else I can do to support a cause that I am passionate about it and that I believe with all my heart.  No child should have to live without hope when we can make a difference just by creating awareness  (writing this post) from bed, writing letters or calling your members of congress or pledge yourself to share this message with all your friends personally or online.   
It is incredible how just a few dollars can make a big difference between live in death in developing countries.
Your donation could:
·        Protect a child from polio and measles for his lifetime for only $5
·        Pay for vaccines to protect a child from the two most deadly diseases – pneumonia and diarrhea for just $15
·        Give a child a lifetime of immunity to protect her from pneumonia, diarrhea, polio and measles for $20

So, please join me and help us protect, save and give children around the globe a shot to live by providing access to vaccines.

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