Two of my girls had vaccines lately. Both were freaking out ahead of time, and both said it wasn't nearly as painful as they'd expected.
As I begin preparations for a 2012 trip to Africa with one of them, I sure wish we could get a vaccine against malaria. Mosquitoes are a big nuisance, to be sure, but ever since spending time in Africa, mosquitoes here in Canada really don't bother me. After all, you can't die from them! In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa though, mosquitoes can be deadly. I've lost a colleague to malaria. Malaria caused almost 800,000 deaths in 2009, mostly among African children, accounting for almost 20% of childhood deaths there. That's one child dying every 45 seconds. Horrifying, and preventable.
For now, insecticides and netting are the best defence, especially for those of us with no natural immunity. A vaccine is being tested courtesy of a clinical trial in 7 African countries. It won't be ready for us by next summer, but it's showing some promising initial results.
So this week our international donation is going towards an organization involved in an antimalarial vaccine initiative. I've given the money to PATH. This organization caught my eye for two reasons: it explicitly invites people to give to innovation, and it has the support of the Gates Foundation. (Tempting to think my little $250 won't make a difference when measured against Gates' dollars, but I'm persevering with the contribution nonetheless).
PS -- For those interested in exploring philanthropy and community engagement a bit further, have a look at the free sample chapter from Do More Than Give. I've just ordered the full book (one click on my iPad -- love it!) and am inspired by the work on high-impact collaborations coming out of the Tamarack Institute's Learning Centre. Thanks for the referral, Brenda!