World Immunization Week 2015 – Closing the Gap


Video credit:  World Health Organization

Immunizations save lives not just each year but for generations to come.  Diseases like small pox and polio have been nearly eradicated in no small part because of aggressive vaccination programs that tackle diphtheria, tetanus, measles, meningitis, influenza, whooping cough, and typhoid.  We know what these diseases can do.  They cause death disability, and unimaginable grief that ripples though communities.  The most vulnerable among us are the children, particularly those in conflict or disaster areas where access to health care and interventions, such as vaccines, is compromised by violence and displacement.  And there are those, too, that are difficult to reach, especially the rural poor of developing countries.

Stopping diseases in their tracks is the combined effort of various stakeholders, both groups and individuals, on the front lines of of this public health battle.  Nations, health care workers, policymakers, the pharmaceutical industry, the medical research community, NGOs, and civil society all play a role in building and strengthening health care infrastructures that support immunizations and prevent the outbreak of diseases from happening.

 Immunizations have been touted as the single most important public health achievement of the last century.  The crippling and devastating effects of polio and smallpox are something our grandparents and great-grandparents knew.  We have at our disposal, today, what could only be hoped for a century ago.  Vaccinations prevent diseases and save lives.  Let us do our part to keep the message going forward.

Fighting for Maternal Health & Rights in the Philippines

Today, April 11th, is International Maternal Health and Rights Day – a day that recognizes and commemorates what we are fighting for each and every day.  It is an opportunity for people to advocate for the advancement of maternal health and rights in their communities, their governments, and through social media platforms across the globe.  Over the years we have seen much improvement in maternal health and rights for women and girls.  However, there is still so much to be done to reduce the number of women needlessly dying during pregnancy and childbirth due to a lack of access to family planning, unsafe abortion and preventable and manageable maternal health issues.  Sadly, the Philippines will not achieve the global goal of reducing maternal mortality and morbidity set forth in the United Nations’ MDG’s.  

Family planning and access to safe and quality reproductive health care are fundamental rights all women and girls should expect from their governments and their health care providers.  Family planning is also critical to addressing the maternal health crisis in the Philippines.  While new reproductive health laws have been passed in the Philippines, supply of modern family planning methods has been unreliable and unsteady.  Implementation of the law has had a number of obstacles – both economic and social.  Although, one of the greatest challenges remains the lack of awareness and education about family planning, particularly among teens and among the impoverished in urban and rural settings.  

Today, Alay rededicates itself to doing its part to address these issues.  We are building a modern birthing and women’s center in San Jose to serve the poor at no, or low, cost to women and their families.  We are creating educational outreach campaigns to bring awareness to communities about sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health issues.  We are also partnering with midwives and medical professionals with a program designed to enhance and further their education centered on reproductive, maternal and prenatal health that will allow them to better serve their community.  

 Alay Foundation will continue to advance and advocate maternal health and rights for the women and girls of the Philippines and we look forward to the opening of our first facility, Mary’s Child Birthing and Women’s Center in San Jose.